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Last updated: 26 Nov, 2014  

London Hosts World Summit in the Fight Against Depression

PR Newswire | 25 Nov, 2014
London Hosts World Summit in the Fight Against Depression

LONDON: Today, global leaders, policy makers, industry professionals and academics called on countries around the world to do more to help the 350 million people suffering from depression.[1] Meeting at 'The Global Crisis of Depression: The Low of the 21st Century?' summit, participants, including Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, Norman Lamb MP, Minister of State for Care and Support, United Kingdom and Nick Hækkerup, Minister of Health, Denmark stressed that healthcare systems, businesses and the general public need to work together to fight depression.

Kofi Annan told the delegates: "Depression has many impacts and dimensions. The danger is that this can make it harder to shape a coherent and effective response.  We need to build the widest possible partnerships and use effective resources to overcome these challenges.  I don't underestimate the scale of the challenge but I've seen how progress can be delivered in the most testing circumstances.  We have the knowledge to tackle depression, we now need to find the will and resources to use this knowledge to transform the lives of hundreds and millions of people."

"I hope that today's meeting has given people a greater understanding of the significant impact of depression and its effect on society and the economy. We have examined what measures governments and businesses are taking to address the impact of depression and looked at best practices to deal with the issue," said Professor David Haslam, Chair, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. "However, much needs to be done. It is now time to move forward to a future that sees the overall quality of life of patients suffering from depression improved and the economic impact of depression minimised."

Depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.[2] In Europe it accounts for more than 7% of premature mortality[3] and now costs European governments more than €92 billion per year.[4]

It is estimated that more than a quarter of citizens of working age have suffered from a form of mental illness including depression,[5 placing a huge strain on economic productivity and society welfare. The personal and societal costs have also become significant, including higher health care costs for individuals and employers, family care giver burdens and serious complications for the patients themselves.[4],[6]   

"Depression can be a devastating illness and I'm determined to make sure anyone affected gets the support they need. We are making progress - England is a world leader in improving access to talking therapies, we have a ground breaking plan to transform mental health care and I've challenged every FTSE 100 company to fight discrimination by signing up to Time to Change," said Norman Lamb MP, Minister of State for Care and Support, United Kingdom. "But there is still work to do for Government and many others. The health service; researchers; schools; and not least employers all have a vital role in making sure anyone with depression gets the support they deserve."

Alastair Campbell, Communicator, Writer and Strategist, and an Ambassador for the Time to Change campaign, has spoken publicly about his own experiences of depression. He said: "There is nobody alive who doesn't know someone with depression yet it is still surrounded by stigma and taboo and there is still a reluctance in many quarters even to consider it as an illness. It is one of the worst illnesses there is and Governments need to give mental health the same priority as physical health. Given that it affects the working population, it is in the interests of government and business to work together on this. I welcome the fact that The Economist is giving it such priority attention and hope others follow suit."

"The OECD has found that mental disorders like depression cost OECD countries up to 4% of GDP, can double or triple the likelihood of being unemployed, increase drop-out from education, and impede treatment of physical health problems. Steps must be taken to fully implement treatments and interventions that work," said Francesca Colombo, Head of Health Division, OECD. "While it is hugely significant that depression has been recognised by so many stakeholders, today's discussions show that there is still much to be done. It is imperative that all parties work together to elevate the importance of managing and treating depression as a serious public health issue and ensure commitment from everyone to ensure overall outcomes are improved."

For more information, please visit

The Global Crisis of Depression was organised by The Economist Events, and sponsored by H. Lundbeck A/S.

Join the discussion on Twitter at #depressionsummit and @EconomistEvents.

About The Economist Events

The Economist Events is the leading provider of international forums for senior executives seeking new insights into strategic issues. These meetings include industry conferences, management events and government roundtables held around the world. As part of The Economist Group, The Economist Events is a highly respected brand with a 162-year history and an unrivalled reputation for excellence and independence. Each meeting organised by The Economist Events delivers objective and informed analysis. Our meetings provide unusually high-level forums where senior executives can gain insights, exchange views and compare strategies.


    European Pact for Mental Health and Well-being, 2008; J. Olesen, et al. Eur J Neurology. 2012; 19:155-162
    World Health Organisation. Depression Factsheet. Available at:
    European Commission. Actions against depression. Improving mental and well-being by combating the adverse health, social and economic consequences of depression. 2004. Available at: 
    J. Olesen, et al. Eur J Neurology, 2012; 19: 155-162
    Mental Health Foundation. Mental Health Statistics. Available at: 
    Evans-Lacko S, Knapp M. Importance of Social and Cultural Factors for Attitudes, Disclosure and Time off Work for Depression: Findings from a Seven Country European Study on Depression in the Workplace. PLOS One.  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091053

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