World Health Day is marked on April 7, the date that the World Health Organization was founded and Cayman Islands Premier Alden McLaughlin made a statement about this significance.
He said that this year the theme is Depression: Lets talk. Depression is a very serious matter that can lead to devastating consequences, McLaughlin said.
It affects people of all ages from all walks of life, whatever their background or socio-economic standing, he stated, adding that in 2016, the Cayman Islands had 46 people treated as inpatients who were diagnosed as suffering from depression.
In 2014, the World Health Organization Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems study conducted in the Cayman Islands reported that mood disorders constituted 28 percent of people diagnosed and treated in outpatient facilities.
Depression is a mood disorder that can interfere with everyday life for an extended period of time, if left untreated, the Premier said. During the last several years there has been an increasing number of children, adolescents and adults who have received outpatient treatment for these types of disorders.
He noted that depression causes mental anguish and severe depression can impact a persons ability to carry out even simple everyday tasks. The condition can impact relationships with family and friends, and affect the ability to work and earn a living. Depression affects us all, whether its a family member, friend, or co-worker who is suffering, he said. In its most severe form, depression can lead to suicide, which according to WHO, is the cause of death for some 800,000 people around the globe every year and is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds.
McLaughlin said that as Minister for Health, these facts and figures cause him a great deal of concern. I feel great compassion for those who suffer from depression and the loneliness and isolation that it can bring.
Living in a small society such as ours, there is all too often a stigma that surrounds mental health disorders, he said. Many people are successful at putting on a brave front and hiding their illness from family, friends and coworkers. Often, people do not come forward to seek medical assistance.
The message I want to send today is that there is no need to go through depression alone. As the theme says Depression: Lets talk, I encourage you to talk to someone you can trust. Talk about your experience with depression.
McLaughlin said that he is using this opportunity to applaud the work of all medical practitioners and behavioural specialists who work assiduously to provide treatment and care to those who suffer from depression and other mental health disorders. This includes the many non-governmental organisations such as Loud Silent Voices (a family mental health support group) that provides emotional support and help for those who suffer in silence, offering a platform to speak and be heard.
There is still work to be done so I am very pleased that we are in the process of procuring a much-needed long-term residential mental health facility in the Cayman Islands, which is expected to be funded and operated by government, he said. This will offer support and treatment for patients with a variety of serious mental healthcare needs.
He finished by saying that as we mark World Health Day, he urges everyone to keep the effects of depression in mind.
Please seek help if you recognise any of the symptoms and please also look out for possible symptoms of depression in loved ones. There is no need to suffer in silence. Our mental health is of equal importance as our physical health.