Episode
July 31, 2012

The world's silent epidemic

Health professionals say depression should no longer be viewed as a #firstworldproblem.
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An Indonesian woman sits in her room where she is chained and diagnosed with schizophrenia, May 4, 2012 in Buleleng, Bali. [Paula Bronstein/Getty Images]


Mental illness is no longer considered a “first world” or Western phenomenon. According to the World Health Organisation, depression is one of the most debilitating disorders in the world. It is reported one in four people will experience some form of depression or substance abuse disorder in their life.

Although treatment is available for some, many suffering with mental illness in certain low-income countries lack access to healthcare or do not seek help because of the stigma associated with it. In fact, a multi-country survey in 2008 revealed 35 to 50 per cent of people suffering mental health problems in developed countries and 76 to 85 per cent of those in developing countries did not receive any treatment in the previous year. To tackle this crisis, some mental health experts are promoting task-shifting—or task-sharing—where local people in the community can provide the same emergency health services as medical doctors.

In this episode of The Stream we'll look at how developing countries are treating depression with Vikram Patel, Professor of International Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Wietse Tol, Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Members of The Stream community also join the conversation via Google+ hangout.

What do you think? Can task-shifting be the solution to treating depression? Send us your thoughts and comments on Facebook or Twitter using #AJStream.
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