Mental Health Awareness Week Tackles Depression

Bermuda Hospitals Board is pleased to announce today the launch Mental Health Awareness Week 2012, which this year focuses on depression. The week was launched on Monday 8 October at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute by the Acting Minister for Health, the Hon. Glenn Blakeney, JP MP, with BHB CEO, Mrs Venetta Symonds, Chief Operating Officer (MWI), Ms Patrice Dill, and Chief of Psychiatry, Dr Chantelle Simmons.

Ms Dill comments: “Depression is a very common mental disorder that can have severe consequences if it is not treated. Because depression can impact someone’s ability to work and carry out normal activities, it impacts families, communities and countries, especially in economically challenging times and this is why our theme this year is Depression: A Global Crisis. By 2020, the World Health Organisation estimate that depression will be the second leading cause of world disability and by 2030, it is expected to be the largest contributor to disease burden. The World Federation for Mental Health has noted that the economic downturn that began in 2008 substantially increased the number of people experiencing depression around the world. Depression has no ethnic, racial, geographic and/or socio- economic bias and we are impacted here in Bermuda too. However, people suffering from depression can recover. Our message is that with the right help, there is hope.”

Dr Simmons comments: “It is important to differentiate between normal sadness and clinical depression. Each of us experiences sadness at one time or another, however true depression is a clinical issue. It is not the fault of the person experiencing depression and no one should be embarrassed or ashamed to experience symptoms. This is not a sign of personal weakness. It is, however, extremely important to seek help. Without intervention, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Depression is a disorder that can hinder an individual’s efforts to carry out their day to day activities, such as maintaining a job, attending school, and meeting routine obligations. Individuals with depression may appear to have a loss of interest in activities they would normally enjoy and experience concurrent physical concerns. For example, one can have decreased energy, problems sleeping and/or eating, and feelings of low self-esteem. Across the globe, depression imposes a significant economic burden, not just on individuals with the disorder, but also on their families, communities, employers, health care systems and general government budgets. There is also strong evidence from studies in a number of high-income countries that, if untreated, depression in childhood and youth can have profound longstanding social and economic consequences in adulthood.“

MWI offers a full mental health service for people suffering from mental health issues, including depression. Most people are helped as outpatients, although inpatient services are available for acute situations. The 24 Hour Help Line can be called at any time on 236-3770, and people should ask for the evening/night administrative manager after 5pm. MWI offers a walk in clinic in where people in crisis can see one of MWI’s Community Mental Health Team members, or appointments can be arranged via referral from a physician, such as your GP.

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