Every wondered why there are so many days dedicated to disease, disorders and body organs? It’s World Health Day today, World Parkinson’s Day and World Safe Motherhood Day on April 11, World Liver Day on April 19, Earth Day on April 22, World Heritage Day on April 18, World Immunisation Week beginning April 24, and World Malaria Day on April 25. For those of you who missed it, World Autism Day was on April 2. This is list for just the month of April.
The World Health Day, said World Health Organization’s India representative Henk Bekedam, puts the spotlight on a different health concern each year and run campaigns on the theme through the year for health promotion. It was diabetes in 2016, food safety in 2015, and so on, and this year’s theme is depression, a disease often undiagnosed because people dismiss it as attention-seeking behaviour or a sign of weakness.
The serious messaging, for people with depression to speak up and for people around them to reach out and help them, is lost on publicity-seekers ready to embrace every possible disease and organ to give their career a boost. They don’t care about the message; they just want to be the messenger who gives a sound bite, even if it’s wrong.
This World Health Day’s theme has prompted psychologists to earnestly declare depression among children not invited to birthday parties is high (not true), psychologists saying people being stalked and trolled are depressed (no surprise), infertility specialists to say childlessness couples are depressed (some are, many are not), neurologists saying stroke-survivors are depressed (true for most people with a chronic illness), orthopaedics saying depression causing neck pain (all kinds of stress tenses shoulder, back and neck muscles and causes pain), cardiologists saying depression raises risk of death after heart surgery (again, true for everyone after surgery), endocrinologists saying Vitamin D deficiency causes depression (not true), oncologists saying people diagnosed with cancer are depressed (anxious and low, obviously, but rarely clinically depressed), and transplantation surgeons saying people waiting endlessly for a donated organ are depressed (umm, they’ll die if they don’t find a donor), among others.
The real message is in danger of getting drowned in the cacophony from people vying for a fleeting spot in the spotlight. Those who really care listen and learn.