Before you hide colorful eggs or consume chocolate matzo, there’s another special day this season — April 7th is World Health Day — so let’s talk.
The World Health Organization, also known as WHO, uses this date to celebrate the anniversary of their inception on April 7th, 1948. The WHO works in 150 countries to achieve their goal of building a better, healthier future for people all over the world. Each year, they pay tribute to their founding by hosting a day devoted to mobilizing action around a specific health issue that affects and concerns people all over the world.
This year’s topic is depression. The bad news is that this condition strikes people of all nationalities, genders, races, religions, ages, and socio-economic statuses. The good news is that there are many powerful actions that we can take to address this epidemic. The slogan for the WHO’s World Health Day campaign is, “Depression: Let’s talk”
Sharing and expressing the anxieties and dark thoughts we carry inside can help take away the power of these worries to depress and debilitate us. The WHO is shining a spotlight on depression in hopes that people all over the world will first be able to recognize signs of this illness in themselves or others, and then find the strength to seek help. These actions can help people get back on a road to better mental health and happiness.
Depression is more than just feeling sad from time to time. Everyone experiences temporary sadness and pain in response to life circumstances, but according to the WHO, depression is a mental disorder that presents as a deeper and more permanent state of sadness lasting more than two weeks. Depression “causes mental anguish and impacts people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and the ability to earn a living. At worst, depression can lead to suicide.”
Unlike a rash or a cough, the symptoms of depression can be more difficult to identify. Additionally, in many cultures, there is a stigma attached to admitting to any type of mental disorder, and having such a condition is sometimes viewed as a sign of weakness. People assume that those who are depressed should simply be able to control their emotions. This attitude is particularly harmful, because it may prevent depressed people from seeking the help that they need. It’s also important to note that these beliefs are false—No one can control whether or not they will be affected by depression, and they should never be blamed for experiencing the condition.
Although depression affects all types of people from all over the world, the WHO is focusing extra attention on three groups that are disproportionately affected— adolescents and young adults, women of childbearing age (particularly following childbirth), and older adults (those over 60).
This World Health Day, The WHO wants to not only educate people about depression, but remind those suffering from depression that they are not alone, and that they can get better with treatment The WHO’s website is chock full of actions to take on April 7th, or any time of the year, to raise awareness about this illness and open up a dialogue that will lead to healing. Below, you’ll find a few simple actions you can take that the WHO has put together to help kickstart a conversation about this particular mental health challenge and how we can overcome it together.
- Download, read, and share handouts to increase awareness about depression. Topics include how to identify depression, what you can do if you think you are depressed, a primer on postpartum depression, and more.
- Print up posters or flyers that feature the slogan “Depression: Let’s talk”, and hang them up around your workplace, school, or community. These powerful images may encourage open dialogue and awareness about depression.
- If you’re short on time, you can take to Twitter on World Health Day. The WHO has already shared facts about depression (and will continue to do so), but you can also add your own tweet to the conversation and use the hashtag, #LetsTalk.
- Host an event on World Health Day to raise awareness about depression and promote action. The WHO suggests hosting activities such as discussion forums, sporting events, or even concerts—any medium that can provide an opportunity to talk about depression, and ultimately lead to a deeper understanding of depression recognition, treatment, and prevention is encouraged.
- Starting April 8th, we will be featuring the #HealthierHappier hashtag on our @Withings Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. Share something that makes you feel healthier and happier with that hashtag, and we might bubble it up! Plus there will be a contest with (5) 40mm Steel HR up for grabs — so stay tuned for the details.
On April 7th, we have the chance to take action to combat depression and help create a happier and healthier world. As the WHO reminds us, open dialogue is the first step, so let’s start talking.