World Mental Health Day and depression

Today, Wednesday 10 October, is World Mental Health Day. For this year, the event's 20th anniversary, the theme is “Depression – a global crisis”. Depression is estimated to affect 1 in 20 –  that’s 350 million people worldwide. Not only is depression very common, it is also the leading cause of disability worldwide in terms of total years lost due to disability. It therefore makes both ethical and economic sense to invest in treatment and prevention of depression.

Dr David Murphy, Chair of the Society’s Professional Practice Board, says:

“Despite the pressing case for good quality research in this area, an editorial in the prestigious scientific journal, Nature, last week stated “The money being spent on researching psychological therapies is tiny by comparison with budgets for fundamental neuroscience and for translation and drug discovery. “  However, despite these limitations on research, we do now have access to evidence about what works in relation to depression and other mental health problems and many of these are psychological approaches. On the basis of research evidence we know that there are a range of specific psychological therapies that are effective in helping people to recover from depression and, importantly, preventing recurrence in the future.

“The Society has welcomed the Government’s framework for mental health “No Health without Mental Health” that was published last year and which contains the aspiration of “Parity of esteem” between physical and mental health. We very much welcome this, although we are clearly a long way from this at present, and we believe there is work to do to establish exactly what parity means in practice. Nevertheless, a key aspect of parity, or equality, of physical and mental health must be equivalent access to, and funding, of high quality, effective treatments.  A “postcode lottery “  can be no more acceptable for the treatment of depression than it would be for the treatment of cancer.

“The National Health Service is about to undergo a transformation which all parties agree is the most significant change in its history. Over the past five years the NHS has begun a programme of developing  psychological therapies, which the same editorial in Nature said “represents a world-beating standard thanks to the scale of its implementation and the validation of its treatments”.  We believe it is critical that commissioners in the new system continue the progress made towards ensuring that people with depression and other mental health problems have access to effective psychological approaches to treatment and also to prevention; clearly the NHS Commissioning Board will have a key role in supporting clinical commissioning groups to achieve this. The Society has expressed a willingness to engage with the NHS Commissioning Board to support it in this task.”

World Mental Health Day has also seen the announcement that a new e-portal is being developed to support professionals in preventing decline in children’s mental health. The Society is part of the consortium backing £2.2m programme.

Read more about the portal on this website.