Message By The Chairman Of The National Mental Health Commission, For Mental Health Month: October 2012

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Message By The Chairman Of The National Mental Health Commission, Father Marcus G. Lashley For Mental Health Month: October 2012, Under The Theme: "Depression: A Global Crisis"

This year’s theme for Mental Health Month invites us to acknowledge depression as a global crisis.?? For over 350 million persons around the world, this is a deeply personal illness which envelops every aspect of their life.?? Depression affects the lives millions of persons in the world; some elderly, some rich. Some are living in dehumanising conditions, many are caregivers but all are gripped by the same experience.

A review of the international statistics suggests that the prevalence of depression is between seven and nine per cent of the population in large countries.?? This represents millions of people who are diagnosed with one of the major categories associated with depression.?? While the ratio of men to women is, on average, one to two, men are less likely to seek treatment than women because of shame or fear.???? Persons caring for an infirmed or elderly relative over an extended period are at extreme risk for developing some form of depression.?? Of greatest concern is the growing number of children who are presenting to clinics and other health facilities with many of the symptoms of depression.?? Many of these are immediately placed on medication and may remain on medication for some time.??

There remains a strong relationship between depression and suicide, and this suggests that many of those who attempt and succeed were depressed for a significant period before taking any action.?? We also know that persons experiencing weight and other body image issues, and those receiving treatment for cancer or recovering from heart attack or stroke, are highly likely to be affected by depression.?? Many of these persons suffer in silence and may not let family members or professionals know what is going on deep inside of them.?? They often isolate themselves and find it difficult to think clearly.

The most significant message in qualitative research is that persons who have healthy interpersonal relations and who handle adversity and loss in an appropriate way are less likely to suffer from a major depressive episode than those who do not.?? To put it simply, the quality of our interactions has a direct impact upon good mental health!

Beyond the statistics and treatment modalities are ordinary people: teachers, parents, politicians, neighbours, friends and community workers; many of whom bravely struggle daily, through the fog of depression, to make their contribution to our common existence.?? The burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally and depression is expected to become the second contributor to disease burden, after heart related conditions, by 2020!??

Let us all strive to nurture and promote healthy relationships and to be champions in the fight against this impending global crisis!

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