The anniversary of The World Health Organisation (WHO) is celebrated each year on April 7th with World Health Day. Every year a global health topic is selected and a campaign launched to inform the public and raise awareness of the issue. The theme for 2017 is ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’, the first mental health targeted campaign since 2001’s “Mental health: Stop exclusion – Dare to care’. By taking into account current global trends, this seems to be an appropriate choice.
According to WHO, “depression is an illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks”. It can affect personal relationships, sleep patterns and can even present itself as physical symptoms. Every week, 1 in 6 adults experience the symptoms of a mental health condition and 1 in 5 adults have considered suicide at some point, with more than 90% of suicides and suicide attempts found to be linked to a type of mental health disorder.
It is incredibly important to spread awareness and to have the support systems in place, because depression and other mental illnesses really can strike anyone at any point.
Many people tend to neglect their mental health- you never think you could be faced with a disorder until it happens to you and they can manifest in countless ways. Depression, anxiety and panic disorder, OCD, bipolar disorder, PTSD, addiction and eating disorders are among a long list of conditions many people face. It is incredibly important to spread awareness and to have the support systems in place, because depression and other mental illnesses really can strike anyone at any point and can last for various time periods.
Students are at high risk of developing problems due to the fast paced, high stress environment of university. It can be a confusing and frustrating time, especially when mental health is generally not taken as seriously as physical conditions. A recent survey conducted by the Boar reports that 93.03% of respondents have faced mental health issues and 25% of them were unable to get an appointment with counselling services. Additionally, a recent article stated that personal tutors are only required to undergo 2 hours of mental health training- worrying statistics that highlight the need for better awareness and support.
However, this year the university has made a great deal of progress in raising awareness on campus with the ‘Are You Okay?’ campaign and a multitude of workshops aimed at relieving stress and encouraging mindfulness. Warwick Sport have also been involved, introducing a series of classes aimed at improving student health and wellbeing. With classes titled ‘Combat Lethargy’ and ‘Yoga for Study Performance’, I think it’s great to see that people are listening to the student body and taking action. It’s very easy to focus on the negatives, but we are fighting a slow battle and an accumulation of small steps leads to big progress.
‘Depression: Let’s Talk’ aims to highlight the importance of talking about depression openly in order to aid recovery and eliminate the barrier that prevents many people from seeking medical attention throughout the world.
The WHO campaign ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’ aims to highlight the importance of talking about depression openly in order to aid recovery and eliminate the barrier that prevents many people from seeking medical attention throughout the world. Their main goals are to provide information to the general public about the causes, symptoms and potential consequences of depression; to emphasise the support services and treatments available; to encourage sufferers to seek help; and to guide family, friends and colleagues to be able to provide support themselves. Hopefully campaigns such as this will drive further improvement in the university and elsewhere.
If you or your fellow classmates show any sign of depression or another mental health disorder do not hesitate to speak to someone. Contact the University of Warwick Student Counselling Service by phone: 024 76523761 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or talk to your GP. The WHO provides information on their campaign website and there are also many other organisations such as MIND who provide resources and support.
Remember, you are not alone and you never have to suffer in silence. Get the help you need, put your wellbeing first and take action.