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GLOBAL communities will observe World Health Day on Friday, April 7, with focus on the theme, "Depression, Let's Talk".

With the aim to mobilize action on depression, this year's World Health Day campaign theme is "Depression: let's talk".

Its minister, Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam, said depression affects people of all ages, races and backgrounds, in all countries.

"At worst, depression can lead to self-injury and suicide", he said in a statement today. "Effective treatment is available through talking therapies and antidepressant medications, or a combination of both".

World Health Organization says people who suffer from depression do not seek treatment because of lack of support and the fear of stigma, so there is a need to address issues around prejudice and discrimination. According to WHO's latest estimates, more than 350 million people including 800,000 in Sri Lanka, are now struggling with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015.

Yim Sobotra, the head of mental health and substance abuse at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, said a person with depression can be identified by symptoms such as loss of interest or pleasure in life, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, hopelessness, insomnia and a lack of appetite.

In that year, suicide became one of the 20 leading causes of death, accounting for almost 1.5% of of the worldwide toll.

Within the WHO's European region, in 2015 Ukraine had the highest percentage of its population suffering from a depressive disorder, at 6.3%, whilst Iceland and Kyrgyzstan had the lowest rates, at 4.1%. Further, fewer than 50% of people with depression receive any treatment even in high income countries.

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Between 36,000 and 40,000 people in Vietnam commit suicide per year among the sharp rise in the number of local people living with depression.

Government needs to increase investment for people with mental health disorder.

Ironically, as per the report released on the eve of World Health Day revealed that 25 per cent of boys and 24 per cent of girls in India feel depressed and hopeless everyday.

Encourage them to seek help: Your friend or loved one may not think that they are suffering from depression.

More often than not, people with depression are stereotyped in the same way.

"The National Health Policy 2017 prioritises mental health services as a component of addressing non-communicable disease and decriminalises attempt to suicide and has a rights-based approach", said Bekedam. This scaling up of mental health services and care is crucial, especially for the most vulnerable populations experiencing humanitarian crises, conflict and displacement.

Dr Saxena added: "A better understanding of depression and how it can be treated, while essential, is just the beginning".