Mental health


Artwork by R. Aragno

Depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.

Depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide. When mild, people can be treated without medicines but when depression is moderate or severe they may need medication and professional talking treatments.

Depression is a disorder that can be reliably diagnosed and treated by non-specialists as part of primary health care. Specialist care is needed for a small proportion of individuals with complicated depression or those who do not respond to first-line treatments.


Technical information

World Mental Health Day 2012

Related links

Latest publications

Mental Health Atlas 2014

With data from 171 of WHO’s Member States, Mental Health Atlas 2014 provides a comprehensive overview of mental health policies, plans and services worldwide.

Promoting rights and community living for children with psychosocial disabilities

This joint WHO/Gulbenkian publication provides guidance on services and supports required to end institutionalization of children and ensure that they can live and thrive in the community.

WHO MIND Project