workplace wellness depression

WHO Health Day Focus: Depression

Today is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Day. This year, the group makes depression the focus of their annual day.

This focus is particularly important for workplace wellness programs to understand, as mental health is increasingly an area of attention for well-run plans. We’ve reported on the trend here, here, and here.

In fact, this post cites a study that connects mental health and presenteeism, a key factor that workplace wellness programs address. The study states: “Presenteeism is a growing problem in developed countries mostly due to an aging workforce. The economic costs related to presenteeism exceed those of absenteeism and employer health costs. Employers are implementing workplace health promotion and wellness programs to improve health among workers and reduce presenteeism.” The study sought to “use an intervention mapping approach to develop a workplace health promotion and wellness program aimed at reducing presenteeism.”

The overall goal of the WHO campaign is that more people with depression, everywhere in the world, both seek and get help.

Said WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan: “These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves.”

Said Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO: “The continuing stigma associated with mental illness was the reason why we decided to name our campaign Depression: let’s talk. For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery.”

Key facts from the WHO include:

  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
  • More women are affected by depression than men.
  • At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
  • There are effective treatments for depression.

The WHO also provides this video on depression: