Damascus, SANA – Health Ministry, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), held Thursday an educational event marking the World Health Day.
The event, which took place at the Damascus-based Dama Rose Hotel, included awareness-raising lectures on what depression is, and how it can be prevented and treated.
The World Health Day is an annual event celebrated every year on the 7th of April to raise the common public awareness towards the health issues and concerns.The theme of 2017 campaign is “Depression: Let’s talk about” and the overall goal is to raising awareness about this issue and ensuring that more people with depression are able to get necessary help and support.
Speaking at the event, Assistant Health Minister, Ahmad Khleifawi said that mental health is a priority health area for the ministry, underlining the need to provide medical and pharmaceutical services for people with mental illness, qualify cadres and build capabilities through organizing training courses in cooperation with international organizations such as the WHO to achieve this goal.
In turn, Dr. Eyad Yanes, an officer from the mental health program of the Syrian office of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthier.
He pointed out that the WHO campaign focuses on three groups that are more at risk of for developing depression: adolescents and young adults, women of childbearing age (particularly following childbirth), and older adults (over 60s), stressing the Organization’s readiness to support the health sector in Syria in order to further improve the mental health services.
In a televised statement, Director of WHO’s Middle East Regional Office,Dr. Mahmoud Fekri said that everyone can help people with depression including supporting them to get help, adding that government should improve services provided to patients, families and societies through providing support to civil society programs to raise awareness of this illness and encourage patients to never hesitate and ask for help.
Director of Psychological Health at the Health Ministry, Dr. Ramadan Mahfouri, said that the directorate is setting up strategies, plans and treatment programs with the aim of reaching all patients and providing them with necessary medicines and care.
Mahfouri said that Depression is a common mental illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, adding that poverty, unemployment, life events such as the death of a loved one, physical illness and problems caused by alcohol and drug use among other factors increase the risk of becoming depressed.
He reviewed other symptoms which people with depression normally have and they include: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide. According to the latest estimates from WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015.