The conversations of life

Depression now our No. 1 health problem worldwide


Over 300 million people suffer from depression around the world, with half not getting the treatment they need, the World Health Organisation says.

Global depression rates increased by 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015, overtaking lower respiratory disease as our biggest health problem.

The University of Queensland puts this down to population growth and ageing, as more people live into the ages where depression is most common.

In Australia, there are three million people living with depression or anxiety and the ABS estimates 45 per cent of us will have a mental health condition in our lifetime.

Older people in particular are more likely to experience contributing factors such as physical illness or personal loss, with the rates of depression for people living in aged care around 35 per cent according to beyondblue.

Yet there is still a stigma around the condition and a lack of support for sufferers in many countries according to the WHO.

Just 3 per cent of health budgets spent on mental health

On average, just three per cent of government health budgets goes to mental health, dropping to less than one per cent in low-income countries and up to five per cent in high-income nations.

But the WHO says for every US dollar invested in depression and anxiety treatment, countries would get back US$4 due to people having better health and the ability to work.

We’re lucky here in Australia that there are a wide range of mental health services available, but if we aren’t using them, what’s the point?

The WHO are running a year-long campaign called “Depression: let’s talk” to encourage people to ask for help when they need it.

If you are living with depression, talking to someone you trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery.

It’s time to speak up.

You can contact any of the organisations below for help:

Lifeline 13 11 14

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

With a background in nursing, Annie has spent over 20 years working in the health industry, including the coordination of medical support for international TV productions and major stadium events, plus education campaigns with a number of national health organisations. In recent years, she has also taken time out of the workforce to be a full-time carer, giving her first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of this role.

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