It’s World Health Day – So What?

There are days and months set aside throughout the calendar to raise awareness of any number of health issues and conditions. The point of those special events is to raise awareness and bring focus to the topic at hand. World Health Day is no different, although the scope is global and the focus is set for the year ahead on one disease or condition that affects millions of people.

April 7 is designated each year as World Health Day in recognition of the founding of the World Health Organization on that day in 1948. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, WHO is a specialized health agency of the United Nations. WHO is the world’s largest public health organization, with six regional offices and employing more than 7,000 people who work in 150 countries. In many ways, WHO leads the direction of the world’s health, from establishing global priorities for awareness, research and resources.

That’s all well and good, right? But why should you or I care about World Health Day? The chances are very good that the topic chosen for focus will directly or indirectly affect us or someone we know. Even if that isn’t the case, the fact that the health issue at hand affects millions of people globally means it deserves at least our passing attention.

Each year on World Health Day, the organization chooses a disease, condition, or issue to bring into focus that affects people on every continent. This year, the World Health Organization has chosen to focus on the mental health issue of depression.

Depression: Let’s Talk is WHO’s official theme for World Health Day and the year ahead. Contrary to some myths, depression is not rare, but one of the most common mental disorders in the world. Depression respects no boundaries; individuals of any age, race, sex or socioeconomic status can be and are affected.

The symptoms of depression can be subtle, making it difficult for an individual to suspect depression as the underlying issue – and even more difficult for others to see that someone they care about may have depression.

The good news is that depression is treatable, but first the person has to be aware there is an issue to treat. Often times the symptoms might seem like laziness when it is really a problem of generalized decreased energy or fatigue, or a case of “the blues” that will soon pass.

World Health Day and the World Health Organization’s focus on increasing awareness of depression, it signs and symptoms and available treatments may be life-saving for many people and for others, it will provide knowledge and insights to move toward an increased quality of life through successful management and treatment.

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