According to local health leaders depression is quickly becoming one of the world’s leading mental health illnesses with over 25 per cent worldwide dealing with it at any given time.
Here in Cayman the figures are not so different with a growing number of young people in the “at risk” group of 15 to 29 seeking help at HSA.
“We are seeing younger and younger persons presenting with florid depression, florid hopelessness and suicidality,” Dr Arlene McGill of the HSA’s Mental Health unit said.
She said she has been dealing with challenges in addressing depression in part because of the stigma associated with it.
“Older folk do not understand that 2017 is not 1977. It is a totally different culture, totally different speed of life and a lot more pressure is on young people,” she said.
Dr McGill and the HSA team are trying change this through World Health Day commemoration under the theme “Depression, Let’s talk.” She says it takes more than family and friends to help.
“Teachers, other community persons, employers, coworkers have to come to understand this is a disease it can be treated and encourage the person who seems to be depressed to get help,” Dr McGill said.
No updated local mental health stats are available, but she says the last survey a year ago pointed to 20 per cent of people in the HSA’s Mental Health Unit fighting depression since then there’s been an increase in patients compounding the need for a mental health facility.
“The long-term mental health facility is an important component to what we do here in Cayman and the sooner we have the better we are at helping,” she said.
Dr McGill says it takes awareness and a change in the way people view depression for Cayman to make a dent in what is fast becoming an epidemic globally.
Government earlier this year identified a site to build a long-term residential mental health facility, a 15-acre plot in East End.
The HSA is hosting a free seminar on depression next Monday at Hibiscus Conference room, George Town Hospital.