Sunday, 7 October 2012

World Mental Health Day- Depression: A Global Crisis

“Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine.” - Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre.

On the 10th of October 2012, we are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of World Mental Health Day!

World Mental Health Day aims to increase the awareness of the public about mental health issues. The day readily opens discussions of various mental disorders; many people don't know what they are or how to get the support they need – World Mental Health Day hopes to change that.

This year's theme is depression. Depression is a serious mental illness affecting over 350 million people world wide, of all cultures and ages. The World Mental Health Survey conducted in 17 different countries discovered that (on average) a shocking 1 in 20 people reported having an episode of depression in the previous year. A study conducted by the European Depression Association (EDA) of 7000 people found that 1 in 10 of them had taken time off work because they were depressed. 1 in 4 confessed they did not tell their employer.

It seems that not only does the general public not realise the seriousness and frequency of depression, they also do not realise what can be done to help and maybe even view it as something to hide or be ashamed of.

This is not the case; Depression is a very serious condition which is often gets out of your control. It is not your fault you feel this way, and you mustn't blame yourself. Depression consists of symptoms such as persistant sadness and low mood, a possible change in diet, trouble sleeping, fatigue, agitation, feelings of worthlessness and poor concentration. It can make life very difficult.

So what can help? 

Cognitive behavioural therapy has proven it's benefits time and time again, as it offers treatment which teaches lasting life skills which can be applied and used in every day life. It looks at how you can change any negative thoughts or patterns that you have in your life, and often helps you to learn how to deal with emotional problems effectively. It can teach you to step out of your automatic thoughts.

Mindfulness is often taught as therapy for depression. It involves learning how to live in the moment and focus on the beautiful tiny features of every single day – be it the smell of that coffee or the sight of the morning sky. By paying attention to the little wonders around you, and not just noticing them but really appreciating them, it can help to ease depression because we realise all the good, special things we have in the world and how lucky we really are. It can be a transformative experience.

World Mental Health Day hopes that by rasing awareness of depression and ways to deal with it, we can collectively improve the general wellbeing and quality of life for people worldwide. For more information, visit the Mental Health Foundation website.