April 05, 2017

By Luna Greenstein

Imagine every action you take—big and small—requires incredible mental and physical energy. Energy you lack due to sleep problems and continuous fatigue. You can’t concentrate. You don’t feel like doing anything, but you also feel bad for not being productive. You internalize these feelings and dislike yourself more and more. You feel numb to things you used to enjoy. You feel hopeless that anything good will happen in your life. And you start to question whether continuing to live is worth the constant despair.

This is how it feels to have clinical depression. And unfortunately, more and more people are experiencing depression worldwide. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), depression:

  • has increased by over 18% between 2005 and 2015,
  • is currently the number one cause of disability, and
  • is predicted to be the number one global burden of disease by 2030.

For these reasons, WHO is putting a spotlight on depression for their World Health Day. Every year on April 7 (the anniversary of their founding), WHO chooses a cause that requires action and mobilization on a global level as a focus for the day. The last time a World Health Day theme focused on mental health was in 2001. It’s been 16 years of being pushed to the back burner while physical health dominated the stage. But this Friday, depression will be front-and-center—recognized and taken seriously.

“NAMI is so excited to build on the work of WHO and be a resource for individuals, families and friends who are seeking information about depression” says Mary Giliberti, NAMI’s CEO. “We can help through our HelpLine, website, and support groups and classes in local affiliates.”

WHO’s goals for 2017’s World Health Day are to inform the public about depression, its causes and what help is available for prevention and treatment. WHO has been working towards these goals since 2016’s World Mental Health Day when they launched a one-year campaign about depression.

Depression: Let’s Talk

Depression is hard. There’s no changing that. But it can be made easier with treatment from a mental health professional and proper coping mechanisms. Many people who engage in treatment do get better. And that is the number we want to increase—not the global burden of disease.

“Depression can make you feel isolated and NAMI is here to let you know that you are not alone and there are a range of effective treatment options,” says Giliberti. The first step—as WHO’s theme states—is starting the conversation. The more people talk about depression and mental illness as a whole, the more normalized it becomes. In that way, we can reduce stigma.

“We all have our mental health and when we are having difficulties, having a conversation and reaching out for support can be lifesaving,” said Lauren Gleason, Director of Public Relations and Media at NAMI. “This year, World Health Day provides us all with an opportunity to have those conversations, and become informed and involved. Together, we can change how the world sees depression and mental health.”

In order to support this effort to raise awareness and educate others, share your depression story on Ok2Talk or YANA, post to social media informing people of World Health Day, get a depression screening if you have symptoms or encourage someone else to do so. You could be saving someone’s life.

Also! Be sure to check out the NAMI Blog all April long—we’ll be featuring pieces on depression and anxiety.


Laura Greenstein is communications coordinator at NAMI.

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NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).