The Economist on Mental Health Awareness, Tuesday 28 April 2015

We’re writing to share an excellent article from the Economist, April 25: “Out of the Shadows: The stigma of mental illness is fading. But it will take time for sufferers to get the treatment they need.”

It’s a heartening read.  Campaigns by governments and charities around the world are raising awareness and making it safe for people from all walks of life to open up about psychiatric illness.  HDRF has been working to end stigma since our founding in 2006, and your support has helped us lead the call for change in the United States.

The Challenge Ahead:  The article also highlights the growing burden of psychiatric illness and the crisis in treatment internationally.  Using case studies from several countries including the U.K., Australia and the U.S., the article points out barriers to treatment like inadequate insurance coverage and a shortfall of adequately trained doctors.

We would like to add one more key point to the Economist’s thoughtful coverage: the urgent need for research. This is especially the case for depression and its related mood disorders, which represent the majority of mind-brain illness.  While there are many effective treatments of depression, more than half of affected individuals are not fully treated by available medications or other therapies.  

Bottom line: the unmet need for new and better treatments for depression is one of the largest barriers to treatment in the world today.

We applaud the efforts by governments to raise awareness about the silent epidemic of depression and other mind-brain illness.  However, any comprehensive plan to address this major public health issue should also include dollars to find new and better ways to detect and treat these illnesses.

That is why HDRF is working relentlessly to spur breakthrough research that will lead to a more complete view of the biological basis of depression and its treatment.  With your help we are leading the way on both fronts: 1) raising awareness and 2) advancing research on a critical medical frontier.

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