We need to talk—about depression. The World Health Organization (WHO), has chosen depression as the focus of this year’s World Health Day on April 7, 2017, The theme is “Depression: Let’s Talk.” For years, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has encouraged open discussion about mental health through efforts like community conversations. SAMHSA applauds WHO’s efforts to take this discussion global.
Depression is more common than ever—not only in the United States, but around the world. In Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates, WHO reports that an increasing number of people in low-to-middle income nations experience depression and anxiety. However, more people experience depression (5.9%) and anxiety (6.3%) in the United States than the global averages (4.4% and 3.6%, respectively). To help achieve the important goal of linking people to treatment, the U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends universal depression screening for adolescents and adults, even for people who have no obvious risk factors.
Depression is becoming increasingly common among younger Americans, creating an urgent need to respond systematically. In 2015, 10.3% of adults aged 18 to 25 experienced a major depressive episode, compared to 8.3% in 2011. Of even greater concern, 12.5% of adolescents experienced a major depressive episode, compared to only 8.2% in 2011.
The good news is that depression is treatable, and recovery is possible. In October 2016, WHO launched a yearlong global discussion about depression, intended to inform the public about depression and suicide, encourage people to seek help, and teach friends and family how to provide support.
When we talk about depression and treatment, it’s important to realize that treatment can take many forms. Also, each person’s path to recovery is as unique as their circumstances. Some people, like pregnant and parenting women, older adults, and youth, may need specialized treatment and support. That’s why SAMHSA sponsors the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator and National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357). For those in crisis, SAMHSA sponsors the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
When people have access to treatment and support, recovery is possible! As part of WHO’s campaign, newscaster James Chau shares his remarkable story of depression, treatment, and recovery. His recovery began with finding someone to listen to him and support him. “Something went right when I opened up—when I chose to speak,” he says. So, let’s talk!