Orygen experts call for united action to reduce global burden of depression, following Lancet Commis

Orygen experts call for united action to reduce global burden of depression, following Lancet Commission

16 February 2022

The world is failing to tackle the “global crisis of depression” and united action is urgently needed, an Orygen-led Lancet Commission has stressed.

The Lancet-World Psychiatric Association Commission was chaired by Orygen’s Clinical Governance Committee Chair Professor Helen Herrman, with Orygen Executive Director Professor Patrick McGorry a senior commissioner.

The commission – Time for united action on depression – makes ambitious recommendations to tackle inequities and widespread neglect in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of depression.

Professor Herrman said a whole-of-society approach was needed to prevent depression and achieve benefits similar to those seen in fields such as heart disease and cancer.

“Depression is a global health crisis that demands responses at multiple levels. This commission offers an important opportunity for united action to transform approaches to mental health care and prevention globally,” Professor Herrman said.

“Investing in reducing the burden of depression will give millions of people the chance to become healthier, happier and more productive members of society, help to strengthen national economies, and advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.”

An estimated 5 per cent of adults worldwide experience depression each year. The commission states that in high-income countries, 50 per cent are not treated or diagnosed; that figure rises to 80-90 per cent in low and middle income countries. 

Professor McGorry said the commission stressed the importance of prioritising prevention and early intervention efforts.

“For many people the onset of depression occurs in young adulthood – at a time when they’re establishing themselves in terms of relationships, work and study – so it can have a crippling effect on their entire life trajectory,” Professor McGorry said.

“Despite that, prevention is one of the most neglected aspects of depression.

“This commission is calling for united action and innovation in terms of prevention and early intervention – so that we can stop depression in its tracks.” 

The commission calls for concerted and collaborative efforts by the general community, healthcare practitioners, decision makers, researchers, people living with depression, and their families.

Professors McGorry and Herrman co-authored the commission alongside 23 other experts from 11 countries, with expertise ranging from neuroscience and global health to lived experience of depression.

The commission received funding and support from the University of Melbourne, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Wellcome Trust.