By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
AS World Mental Health Day quickly approaches, members of the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre are coming together to host two symposiums to promote awareness.
With this year’s topic and highlight being depression, the events are aimed at ensuring that all sectors of society are made aware of the dangers of accepting long periods of sadness without being concerned.
On October 10, World Mental Day, the first Symposium is scheduled to take place at the St Joseph’s Catholic Parish, under the theme “ Depression is not a sign of weakness or a defect in character”.
The second symposium will continue on the following day for health care professionals at the Calvary Bible Church, under the theme
“ Depression: A real medical condition”.
According to Betsy P Duvalier, manager of the public relations administrative suite at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, depression is a very common mental disorder that can have severe consequences. However, it can be successfully treated.
Ms Duvalier said research has shown that by the year 2020, depression will become the second leading cause of disabilities throughout the world.
She said depression is a huge contributor to the global burden of disease and it has no bias whatsoever. The significant economic issue that can be related to depression is the loss of the ability to perform normal activities. Unfortunately, depression, if untreated, can lead an individual to become a danger to oneself and others, and potentially suicide.
“The symposium on the actual day is for the general public. The second one will be a symposium for health care professionals, and persons who work directly with patients in patient care. In addition, to promote awareness we want to publish articles in the local print media and we are also doing talk shows on the radio stations. For those who cannot attend the symposiums, at least they will know through the talk shows about depression,” said Ms Duvalier.
The World Federation for Mental Health has appealed to the world to also focus on depression under the theme “Depression: A Global Crises”, said Ms Duvalier.
“Health care workers who play a pivotal role in treating this condition and preventing its progression to severity that can lead to suicide, are invited to learn about this dormant yet destructive condition that evades even the keenest eyes in medicine,” said Ms Duvalier.
She added that the first symposium on World Mental Health Day will also be addressing the issue of depression in children.
“One of the most common responses to hearing that a child has depression is, “what does he/she have to be depressed about?” Such responses suggest that there is a desperate need to guarantee that persons living, interacting or working with children do not overlook the early warning signs of depression in children,” said Ms Duvalier.
Local physician, Dr Desdemona Curtis-Downes is scheduled to speak at the event on the topic “Depression in Children and Adolescents.” Ms Duvalier said all teachers attending the session will receive a handbook on depression and children.
Nurse Marleen Martinborough, who works along with Dr Curtis-Downes, told Tribune Health that participants can look forward to receiving advice on how to recognise depression in children. She stressed that early intervention can lead to better outcomes. She said presenters will offer treatment options and advice to assist parents, teachers and guardians.
Nurse Martinborough said parents should be particularly vigilant for signs that may indicate their child is at risk of suicide. She said they should look for warning signs such as social isolation, hopelessness, giving away possessions, increased risk-taking behaviours and talk about death and dying.
“Although relatively rare in youths under twelve, young children do attempt suicide and may do so impulsively when they are upset or angry. Children with a family history of violence, alcohol abuse, or physical or sexual abuse are at greater risk for suicide, as are those with depressive symptoms,” she said.
Nurse Martinborough said the most successful treatment approach for childhood and adolescent depression is a combination psychotherapy “talk therapy” and medication.