This year’s World Health Day will be focusing on mental health; specifically on depression. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) has made depression a priority as it has been reported that in Europe, the rate of depression seems to be escalating, resulting in an expenditure of 136.3 billion euros (data 2007). Depression has become widespread and is therefore impacting our health systems.

Different social, psychological, environmental and biological factors can lead to depression which is currently impacting around 300 million people worldwide. There are popular successful treatments that unfortunately are given, or are within reach to only a few of those impacted. Consequently, during a World Health Assembly in 2013 a resolution passed calling for a comprehensive, coordinated response to mental disorders at the country level. As both EFPA and Koen Lowet point out “psychologists play a crucial role in this fight,” “By using knowledge gained out of psychological research, psychologists assist in the prevention, detection and treatment of depression around the world.”

One of the services EFPSA offers is the use of psychological knowledge in order to make a positive and significant impact on society. The initiative was introduced into the portfolio of EFPSA’s activities in April 2013, and the Social Impact Initiative team has, thus far, been working on different projects in order to reach their aim:  “Mind the Mind – to Combat the Stigma of Mental Disorders”, “Organised Acts of Kindness”, and “Better Together”. Through these campaigns, EFPSA aims to contribute positively and significantly to society and decrease stigma and discrimination in society. Although public knowledge is increasing, the level of stigmatisation of individuals with mental health disorders has remained the same, with mental health stigma being the most common barrier to seeking consultation for mental health disorders such as depression. We believe that education is the key to making society more aware and knowledgeable of the conditions and behaviours of those with mental disorders, which in turn, is more likely to lead to an increased understanding and acceptance of the affected individuals in society. Therefore, EFPSA calls on the support of governments, non-governmental organisations and all members of society to promote positive mental health and disseminate knowledge to the public in order to support and empower individuals suffering from mental disorders and the associated stigma.

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