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Breaking the silence can help people with depression

Apr 06, 2017

Majority of health experts believe that more than anything else people suffering from depression need to be heard.

New Delhi: Silence is a killer when it comes to depressive disorders and other mental disorders with depression alone being one of the commonest mental disorders.

Therefore, it is extremely important for breaking the barrier of silence around depression and coming out to talk to people which can help patients bring about a positive change. This World Health Day, the theme Depression: #LetsTalk zeroes in on the fact that people should come out and talk about their mental health problems.

Discussing depressive disorders and other mental disorders can help in identifying, managing and treating the mental disorders at an early stage.

Dr Pallab Maulik, Deputy Director and Head of Research at The George Institute for Global Health India, believes that treatment at early stage is easy, doesn’t need medication. “If identified, early depression can be managed through simple counselling techniques and by using coping strategies that can be adapted individually or through help at home,” he said.

“People should come out and talk about their problems. Identify your problem at an early stage and start treatment early. “The key is to be emphatic and not be sympathetic. Be patient and hear them out. Be neutral, don’t be subjective. Do not focus on passing advice or comments. People suffering from depression need to be heard,” Maulik explained.

According to the World Health Organisations health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This definition in itself underlines the importance of mental health in the overall health and well-being of a person.

Globally, mental disorders, especially depression are the leading causes of disability in people. A WHO report on ‘Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders – Global Health Estimates’, states that over 300 million people are estimated to suffer from depression, equivalent to 4.4% of the world’s population.

In India, according to the National Mental Health Survey-2015-16, an estimated 150 million people need to be treated for mental disorders. The survey says that depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders – the common mental disorders - affects around 10% of the population.

However, research shows that only one in every 27 people with mental disorders receive any care, in countries like India. Lack of trained mental health professionals, lack of adequate inpatient facilities, poor awareness about mental health and stigma related to help seeking are some of the causes leading to such low level of care seeking.

Therefore, a holistic approach needs to be taken to ensure that people who suffer mental disorders are treated as being part of the society and given the due respect and care they require.

Dr Maulik believes that the new Mental Healthcare Bill-2016 recently approved on 24th March is a welcome relief but needs to be implemented in its true spirit. “We need to ensure that the people involved, especially the caregivers, the police and other stakeholders in society are sensitized to this new legislation that sees a person with mental disorder as someone having same rights as everyone else in society and makes it incumbent upon society to provide those rights” he said.

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