Each year Burnet Institute joins the international community in commemorating World Health Day, April 7.
In 2017 the World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing on depression, and the importance of talking about it as the first step to recovery.
For several years, Burnet’s Sex Drugs and Rock‘n’Roll (SDRR) survey has been investigating the incidence of depression among young Australians, their use of antidepressant medications, and the state of their mental health more generally.
Preliminary data from the 2017 SDRR survey shows that 40 percent of the 1272 participants had previously been diagnosed with a mental health problem.
The most common conditions were anxiety disorders (31 percent), depressive disorders (26 percent), and eating disorders (7 percent).
The research shows that female participants were almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than males.
Burnet Deputy Program Director, Behaviours and Health Risks, Dr Megan Lim, expects this research to reveal many significant insights over time.
“Mental health is really important in its own right, but one thing is really important about mental health is that it underpins a lot of health behaviours, health risks and risk behaviours which lead to a range of different health outcomes,” Dr Lim said.
“And with Burnet’s new program focusing on behaviours and health risks, mental health is something that we definitely need to take into account.”
Dr Lim said the growing recognition that mental health, and aspects such as depression, are so closely related to other health areas, has led Burnet to engage a bit more in this space.
“I expect that this is going to be a growing area of research, particularly in relation to developing countries,” she said.
“A lot of research tends to focus on more immediate issues such as mortality, but poor mental health is being recognised more and more in low resource settings as well, and Burnet has a great opportunity to lead research and programs.”
WHO is using World Health Day to launch a 12-month campaign entitled ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’
According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.
Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives.