“Depression: Let's Talk” is a mental health campaign run by the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the many misconceptions and fears associated with depression and other mental health issues. Depression is an illness that more than 300 million people worldwide grapple with every day.

The rate of this debilitating illness has risen more than 18.4 percent in over a decade. WHO's director-general, Margaret Chan, believes these figures deserve attention. The rate at which depression is growing – worldwide – is a wake-up call, said Chan, in a statement made from the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Lack of support and the growing fear of being labeled leads many to suffer in private and not seek treatment that may help them maintain healthy, productive lives. Chan believes countries need to re-think their approach to mental health and to give the rise in depression the urgency it deserves.

WHO explains depression

The WHO explains depression as more than a person feeling down. This mental illness leaves the person sad and is often accompanied by the lack of interest in everyday activities and work. Many countries have little or no support for people with mental health disorders, and the agency reports that only around half of the people with depression get treatment in wealthier nations.

As cases of depression continue to rise so has the rate of suicide.

A better understanding of mental illness and treatment is only a start. The agency would like to see sustained advanced mental health services available to all – even those living in remote communities.

800,000 people worldwide commit suicide

The increase of addiction, diabetes, heart disease and suicidal behavior associated with depression are among the world's largest killers today.

Yet, government health budgets worldwide are only about 3 percent – with 1 percent being allocated for mental health in poorer countries.

Shekhar Saxena, director of the WHO's mental health and substance abuse department reports that even in the most developed countries only half the population suffering from depression are properly diagnosed and treated.

Saxena stresses the importance of early diagnosis and treatment as an effective approach to lowering suicide rates.

Every year – worldwide – 800,000 people commit suicide. That adds up to one person committing suicide every four seconds.

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