The World Health Organization is focusing on depression as World Health Day initiatives. This year’s theme Depression: Let’s Talk, aims to reach out and help people battling with the disorder. According to WHO’s latest estimates, between 2005-2015, there has been an 18 per cent increase in people dealing with depression, that is approximately 300 million people.

A lot of people around us, who probably come across as anti-social, withdrawn or aloof might not be socially awkward, unlike what you think. Chances are they might be dealing with issues that they cannot open up about because of the lack of support, taboo and stigma associated with depression.

The World Health Awareness Day’s campaign this year is touted to focus on getting more people across the world dealing with depression to come forward and seek help. According to WHO, nearly 50 per cent of the population in high-income countries do not avail treatment. Further, only 3 per cent of government health budgets invest in ensuring proper mental health of the patients, varying from one per cent in low-income countries to five per cent in high-income countries.

“Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and even communities, workplaces, and health care systems” the WHO said on its website.

At worst, depression can lead to self-inflicted injury and suicide. A better understanding of depression – which can be prevented and treated – will help reduce the stigma associated with the illness, and lead to more people seeking help.

Our goal is to make the general public more aware of depression, its causes and that it can be treated. We need to make mental health a priority for 2017 because no one is immune to mental illness. Everyone is affected directly or indirectly so we’re all responsible to do something to spread awareness about it.

According to WHO’s latest estimates, between 2005-2015, there has been an 18 per cent increase in people dealing with depression, that is approximately 300 million people.

Some people suffering from depression can exhibit warning signs, such as weight loss, changes to physical appearance, agitation or lethargy, others may not show that anything’s wrong at all.

Prevention is key: 70 per cent of all mental health illnesses start in childhood and adolescence. Early intervention helps to introduce coping strategies, awareness of triggers and other ways to manage mental well-being.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 100 for immediate help.