Depression Help

Photo by David Levene.

Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Photo by David Levene.

“The failure to tackle depression undermines the fundamental human rights of millions and millions of people. This begins with the denial of even the most basic levels of treatment and support.” ~ Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, speaking at the Global Depression Summit in London, England.

Kofi Annan’s speech made me want to stand up and cheer. Realistic about how depression affects us all, Kofi Annan gives three solutions for helping individuals and families affected by depression. I strongly urge you to read the entire speech at  It’s not long and will hit home for anyone suffering with depression. Here’s a few highlights. (I’ve selected a few main ideas from Mr. Kofi Annan’s speech)

Mr. Kofi Annan:

“From long experience, I know how expert gatherings like this can be catalysts for the development of innovative solutions and partnerships. And, as this audience understands, there are few issues where such fresh thinking and energy is more needed than the global priority and resources given to depression. 

The truth is, of course, it is not lack of medical knowledge that is at the heart of the world’s collective failure to tackle depression. Our difficulties rest more on a lack of political resolve.

There has been a failure to acknowledge the scale of the problem and to put in place the policies and resources to overcome it.

This begins, of course, with the denial of even the most basic levels of the treatment and support.

Even in richer, more developed countries, help for those with depression can lag badly behind those suffering from many physical conditions.

But lack of treatment and support is not the only denial of rights that those with depression suffer.

Too often and in too many societies, those with mental health problems face discrimination and isolation. So we have to tackle the lack of resources and trained providers which prevent effective and universal care.

But we also have to deal with social stigma and lack of community understanding associated with mental disorders.

This is all the more shocking given that depression can affect all of us.

But there is a more positive side to the picture. 

As I have said, we know more than ever about the condition. 

Diagnostic criteria and screening mechanisms are now well-established.

There are an increasing number of simple, effective psychological and pharmaceutical interventions.

Economic analysis has also indicated that treating depression in primary care is feasible, affordable and cost-effective. 

We also have a great deal more understanding of the prevention strategies which can help avert depression before it takes root. 

The challenge is to find the global vision and leadership to maximize the benefits for individuals, families, communities and countries.

As a first step, I note that WHO member states have already approved the 2013-2020 mental health action plan. This calls for a 20% increase in treatment for mental health including depression by 2020.

Second, we need to find ways to widen the numbers of patients receiving treatment for depression.

Third, the MDGs and success of initiatives to tackle infectious diseases has shown the immense value of building innovative partnerships across sectors and countries.

None of us have a monopoly of wisdom.

Throughout my career, I have found that the more people, organizations and sectors we can involve in finding solutions and increasing resources, the greater and faster the results will be.

We need the widest possible partnerships and collective resources to overcome this challenge.                        

Increasingly, we have the knowledge about depression to make a difference.

We now need to find the will and resources to use this knowledge to transform the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Thank you.”

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