The World Health Organisation states that depression is now the leading cause of ill health and disability globally.
There has been a massive increase in the number of people who report symptoms of depression, leading the World Health Organisation to draw this conclusion.
Previously, respiratory disease was considered to be the largest world health difficulty.
But the latest figures suggest that over 300 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with depression.
This represents an increase of approximately 20% over the last 10 years.
Responding to the figures, the World Health Organisation suggested that effective treatment for the condition must be considered a healthcare priority.
WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, believes that the human and economic cost of depression cannot be understated.
“These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves.”
While Dr Skekhar Saxena of the WHO suggested that a lack of understanding and knowledge of the debilitating condition can prevent treatment from being administered effectively.
“For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery,” Saxena commented.
The World Health Organisation professionals were speaking ahead of the launch of their “Let’s Talk” campaign.
While it is generally believed that treating depression in newly industrialised and third world countries can be problematical, researchers also suggest that even high income countries failed to treat the disease effectively.
For example, nearly 50% of people with depression do not receive treatment, while drugs prescribed are often ineffective.
Only 3% of government health budgets are actually invested in mental health, with this figure increasing slightly to 5% in the developed world.
Yes the World Health Organisation believes that investing in mental health results makes economic sense, suggesting that for every dollar invested in treating depression and anxiety there is a $4 return in better health and ability to work.
The situation regarding mental health in Britain is already well documented, with a group of leading bodies who represent psychologist, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst and counsellors having recently written an open letter published in The Independent newspaper.
In the letter, it is suggested that the benefits system often sanctions people unfairly who are suffering from mental health problems.
The authors of the letter believe that stringent action must be taken in order to acknowledge the problems caused by mental health difficulties.
“Suspending the sanctions system alone is not enough. We believe the Government also has to change its focus from making unemployment less attractive, to making employment more attractive – which means a wholesale review of the back to work system. We want to see a range of policy changes to promote mental health and wellbeing. These include increased mental health awareness training for job centre staff – and reform of the work capability assessment (WCA), which may be psychologically damaging, and lacks clear evidence of reliability or effectiveness.”