Sneha (name changed), a Delhi University alumnus, was in 2nd year of college when she was diagnosed with depression. Since then she has been fighting with depression alone. Neither her parents nor her friends know about this. “I had no one to talk to, nobody was ready to listen as to how I am feeling, what I am feeling, whenever I called people to talk, they all used to say the same thing that this is just a phase, it will pass, read books, watch movies, do this, do that. So, there was no one to lend an ear, who would just sit and listen to me. I even approached counsellors assuming that at least they would listen to me. But all they did was to prescribe medicines without listening to the whole story. I went from one counsellor to the other but to no effect. Because in India we don’t consider mental health as a big issue, nobody talks about it, as if it doesn’t exist. Every single individual applies their theory but nobody is ready to talk, nobody is ready to listen. And this is what I want to change, this is what I want to work for, I want people to at least start talking about it,” says Sneha. She lauds World Health Organization’s effort to start a conversation about depression.
WHO has launched a programme called ‘Depression: let’s talk’, with the objective to create awareness. It is a one-year programme launched on October 10, 2016 (World Mental Health Day), so that people in all countries can get help. WHO has come up with posters and hand-outs to start the talk in a creative manner to have maximum impact and reach. Posters represent two people talking about depression and the handouts give detailed information about depression. All WHO member countries are a part of it.
According to World Health Organisation, “Depression is a common mental disorder, characterised by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.”
WHO estimates that between 1990 and 2013 , the number of people suffering from depression has increased by nearly 50%. Close to 10% of world’s population is affected, which will only increase if proper steps are not taken in time. There are many factors which could lead to depression, it could be a conflict, disaster, poverty, illness or crisis in personal and professional life. Depression does not discriminate, it can affect anyone, from any section of the society and from any country. It often leads to severe consequences and can be a cause of total destruction of somebody’s personal and professional life and relationships. It can also lead to suicides, which is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds. It also increases the risk of other non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease etc.
It is curable, but the stigma attached to depression makes it difficult for people undergoing it to come out and talk. Talking about it can really help the person going through this. There are many like Sneha who are suffering in darkness alone, it is our responsibility as fellow humans to help them in their fight. Therefore, not just talk but listen.