By Guest Contributor Claudia Cortez
World Health Day is April 7 and this year the World Health Organization (WHO) is tackling depression. Per statistics from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults suffer from depression in the United States alone. Globally, that number escalates to an astounding 350 million people. The prevalence among children and adolescents is much higher: 1 in every 4 teens will have a major depressive episode in high school. Depression also accounts for the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds–suicide. In an ongoing effort to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and mobilize the community to learn, recognize, and treat depression, WHO has implemented a year-long campaign with the slogan, “Depression: Let’s Talk.” The campaign began October 2016, but it’s not too late to take part in the conversation.
Through your social media accounts, share posts, videos, and tweets from WHO.
Facilitate access to information and resources by creating events, hosting discussion forums online or at coffee shops, and circulating flyers or handouts. The World Health Organization has excellent resources and materials available for free on their website.
And most importantly, talk. As caretakers, educators, or simply concerned citizens, you can shape the dialogue surrounding mental health by encouraging conversation. Reach out to those you suspect may be depressed. Learn the signs and symptoms of depression in adults and teens and familiarize yourself with resources in your community. Talk about it, share information, and offer support. Lending an ear may save a life.
What you can do for people who are depressed (WHO, 2017)
- Make it clear that you want to help, listen without judgement, and offer support.
- Find out more about depression.
- Encourage them to seek professional help when available. Offer to accompany them to appointments.
- If medication is prescribed, help them to take it as prescribed. Be patient; it usually takes a few weeks to feel better.
- Help them with everyday tasks and to have regular eating and sleeping patterns.
- Encourage regular exercise and social activities.
- Encourage them to focus on the positive, rather than the negative.
- If they are thinking about self-harm, or have already intentionally harmed themselves, do not leave them alone. Seek further help from the emergency services or a health-care professional. In the meantime, remove items such as medications, sharp objects and firearms.
- Take care of yourself too. Try to find ways to relax and continue doing things you enjoy.
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WHO/, Twitter https://twitter.com/who @WHO, YouTube https://www.youtube.com/c/who and Instagram @worldhealthorganizationUse hashtags #LetsTalk, #depression, #mentalhealth
Teen Depression Symptoms (Psychcentral.com)
- Hopelessness, pessimism, preoccupation with morbid themes
- Persistent boredom; low energy, low motivation
- Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
- Frequent complaints of physical illnesses, such as headaches and stomachaches
- Poor concentration
- Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
- Social isolation, poor communication