This post was written by Sarah M. Simpson.
Do you or someone you know have a big black dog following them? The World Health Organization recently collaborated with illustrator Matthew Johnstone, author of “I Had a Black Dog”, to mark the 20th anniversary of World Mental Health Day as designated by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH). Initiated in 1992, World Mental Health Day signifies a day to encourage public discussion of mental disorders and to bring awareness to investments in mental disorder prevention, promotion and treatment services. This year’s theme is “Depression: A Global Health Crisis”. In the book “I Had a Black Dog”, Johnstone chronicles his struggle with depression through narrative and illustrations. Interestingly, the “black dog” reference was popularized by Winston Churchill, a long-time sufferer of depression and mental illness. Using Johnstone’s illustrations, WHO has come up with the series of videos, featured below that highlight symptoms of this illness along with ways to prevent and treat it.
Depression is one of the world’s most widespread illnesses, often co-existing with other serious illnesses. It also doesn’t discriminate and anyone from men to women, adults to children, the rich to the poor can be affected. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a common mental disorder with more than 350 million people suffering from this “hidden burden” world-wide.
As these videos show, depression is different from one’s usual mood fluctuations. Depression not only makes you feel sadness for long periods of time, but it also interferes with your ability to function and perform everyday activities at work, school or home. Effective treatments include psychosocial treatment and medication. The active involvement of depressed people and those who are close to them in addressing depression is key. The first step in treating this illness is to recognize the depression and seek support. The earlier the treatment begins, the more effective it is in treating this illness that affects so many people.