Mental Health Placed Upfront

The rate of depression is 12.6% in Iran, while the rate of all psychological disorders is 23.6%.
The rate of depression is 12.6% in Iran, while the rate of all psychological disorders is 23.6%.

On the occasion of the World Health Day (7 April), Health Minister Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi posted a message on his Telegram channel drawing attention to the theme this year: “Depression: Let’s Talk”.

He pointed to the modern definition of health which focuses on the mental, social as well as physical state, IRNA reported.  

“To highlight the mental aspect of health, the World Health Organization has picked the theme of depression for this year’s health day and encourages dialogue on the subject,” he says in the message.

Mental health is not defined as merely the absence of a psychiatric disorder, but involves compatibility with oneself and others, ability to adapt with the surroundings and react properly in times of hardship. Many mental issues obviously also affect physical health.

According to the minister, over 300 million people in the world suffer from depression and the figure has increased by 20% over the past 10 years. Nevertheless, inadequate support plus fear of a stigma has prevented their access to proper treatment.  

Nationwide surveys of the Health Ministry show that the rate of depression is 12.6% in Iran, while the rate of all psychological disorders is 23.6%. Anxiety disorder is next with 14.5%.

On the report of a study conducted by an international team working with the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative, depression was estimated to have its highest prevalence in high-income countries, including France (21%) and the US (19%) Some of the lowest rates in this category were in low- to middle-income countries, including Mexico (8%) and China (6.5%).

In high-income countries, about 50% of people with depression do not get treatment and on average 3% of the government health funds are invested in mental health varying from less than 1% in low-income countries to 5% in high-income countries.

“The WHO has declared that these figures are a warning sign to all countries and it is essential that states devise appropriate plans to tackle the issue,” Hashemi wrote.  In Iran, following the implementation of the Health Reform Plan, for the first time mental health services such as counseling are offered free of charge, and several others are covered by supplemental insurance schemes.

A conference was being held Sunday in Tehran on the subject of mental health attended by high-ranking officials including the health minister, his deputies, and Dr. Jihane Tawilah, WHO representative in Iran.

According to Ahmad Hajebi, director of the Mental Health Office at the Health Ministry, the conference is the starting point of a six-month period of serious and continuous efforts until the World Mental Health Day on October 10.

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