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World Health Day 2017 Depression - Let's Talk

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World Health Day is commemorated annually on 07 April. On this day the whole world focuses attention on a specific health topic of concern to peo-ple all over the world. The focus for 2017 World Health Day is de-pression, the slogan being Depression : Let's talk. As the whole world places mental health under the spotlight on this World Health Day, the Department of Health recognises the fact that many people suffering from de-pression, suffer in silence for fear of being stigmatised and discriminated against if they say that they are depressed and if they seek treatment. This theme encourages all of us to talk op-enly about depression. Those of us who are feeling depressed are encouraged to talk to others about how we are feeling and to share our sadness or the difficulties we are having with others. Talking about one's pro-blems and feelings is an important way of re-lieving oneself of symptoms of depression. The department encourages all South Africans, including the public sector, civil so-ciety, communities, the media, religious groups, educational institutions, workpla-ces, households and other groups and indi-viduals to talk openly about depression. In doing so, we will all become far more aware of depression, the signs and symptoms and how common it is and together we will over-come the stigma and myths that are often associated with depression and other men-tal illnesses which often lead to people not coming forward and seeking help. Those who are already suffering from de-pression should be given the necessary support. We urge those that are feeling de-pressed to talk to others about their feelings and to seek help. We encourage family members and friends to listen very carefully, support the person who is depressed and assist him or her to get help if he or she needs more than you can give them. Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life and impacts on people's abili-ty to carry out even the simplest daily tasks with sometimes devastating consequences in family relations, child rearing, adherence to medication and other important aspects of life. Common signs of depression include per-sistent sadness and loss of interest in ac-tivities that you normally enjoy - for at least two weeks. In addition people with depres-sion have several of the following symptoms : loss of energy, change in appetite, sleeping more or less, reduced concentration, feeling anxious, feeling worthless, inability to take even simple decisions, guilt and hopeless-ness. At worst, depression can lead to sui-cide. While South Africa has a limited number of mental health professionals such as psy-chiatrists and psychologists, especially in the public sector, and this is something that needs to be improved together with increas-ing other health personnel, we do provide assistance to people with mental health pro-blems at all levels of the health system, in-cluding at primary health care level. At the same time, we appreciate the work that is done by non-governmental organisa-tions, in supporting people with depression and other mental health problems. As the world observes this important day under this important theme, the department pledges to continue to strengthen and in-crease access to quality mental health ser-vices and improve its efforts of educating the public about early signs of depression and other mental illness so that those affected could talk to others around them and seek help where required. Department of Health