World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day raises public awareness about mental health issues. The day promotes open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention, promotion and treatment services. This year the theme for the day is “Depression: A Global Crisis”.

Depression affects more than 350 million people of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease. Although there are known effective treatments for depression, access to treatment is a problem in most countries and in some countries fewer than 10% of those who need it receive such treatment.

Mental Health refers to a broad array of activities directly or indirectly related to the mental well-being component included in the WHO is definition of health: “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease”. It is related to the promotion of well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, and the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by mental disorders

What Is Mental Illness?

Mental illnesses include such disorders as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic and other severe anxiety disorders, autism and pervasive developmental disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, borderline personality disorder, and other severe and persistent mental illnesses that affect the brain. 

These disorders can profoundly disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, moods, ability to relate to others and capacity for coping with the  demands of life.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character, or poor upbringing.

Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people with serious mental illness need medication to help control symptoms, but also rely on supportive counseling, self-help groups, assistance with housing, vocational rehabilitation, income assistance and other community services in order to achieve their highest level of recovery.

Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:

  • Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders.  They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence. 
  • Mental disorders fall along a continuum of severity. The most serious and disabling conditions affect five to ten million adults (2.6 – 5.4%) and three to five million children ages five to seventeen (5 – 9%) in the United States.  
  • Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability (lost years of productive life) in the North America, Europe and, increasingly, in the world. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.   
  • Mental illnesses strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the old are especially vulnerable. 
  • Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each year in the United States. 
  • The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports; 
  • Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; By getting people the treatment they need early, recovery is accelerated and the brain is protected from further harm related to the course of illness. 
  • Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.


Depression can affect anyone and it is one of the most widespread illnesses, often co-existing with other serious illnesses.

According to the World Health Organization, unipolar depressive disorders were ranked as the third leading cause of the global burden of disease in 2004 and will move into the first place by 2030.

Depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration. 

Depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide. When mild, people can be treated without medicines but when depression is moderate or severe they may need medication and professional talking treatments.

Depression is a disorder that can be reliably diagnosed and treated by non-specialists as part of primary health care. Specialist care is needed for a small proportion of individuals with complicated depression or those who do not respond to first-line treatments. 

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Taking a Stroll Next to Water Bodies Can Boost Mental Health, Study Finds!!

Mental health concerns are still at an all-time high as countries across the globe continue to battle the effects of the coronavirus.

Psychology experts have offered advice to help keep feelings of anxiety and isolation in check during these stressful times, like continuing to exercise or spend time outdoors.

One new study suggests that short, frequent walks along bodies of water are particularly good for our mental health. The study included 59 adults who were asked to take 20-minute daily walks for two weeks and then rest for 20 minutes a day for the third week. One week the participants walked along a beach in Barcelona and the other week, the route was along city streets.

Before, during and after each activity, researchers measured the participants’ blood pressure and heart rate and used questionnaires to assess their well-being and mood.

“We saw a significant improvement in the participants’ well-being and mood immediately after they went for a walk in the blue space, compared with walking in an urban environment or resting,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, director of urban planning, environment and health initiative at ISGlobal.

The study wasn’t able to discern any particular cardiovascular health benefits. According to the researchers, the reason may be the design of the study which only measured immediate effects instead of long-term exposure.

“Our results show that the psychological benefits of physical activity vary according to the type of environment where it is carried out, and that blue spaces are better than urban spaces in this regard,” said ISGlobal researcher Cristina Vert, the lead author of the study.

Studies on the effects of blue spaces on our health have been limited, but an earlier ISGlobal review of 35 studies found that exposure to blue spaces is beneficial for mental health and promotes physical exercise.

Previous ISGlobal studies also have found many health benefits associated with green spaces including lower risk of obesity, better attention capacities in children and slower physical decline in older adults.

Residential green space in one particular study was associated with a lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood. The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

“According to the United Nations, 55% of the global population now lives in cities,” Nieuwenhuijsen added. “It is crucial to identify and enhance elements that improve our health – such as blue spaces – so that we can create healthier, more sustainable and more liveable cities.”

In Philadelphia, the health benefits of greening vacant lots have been studied for years, however, little attention has been focused on the blue spaces in the city.

The study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health was published in Environmental Research.


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