Re-Thinking Mental Health Treatment: World Health Day 2017

Did you know that more than 300 million people worldwide live with depression? That number has increased 18% between 2005 and 2015, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). With such staggering numbers, it’s no surprise that WHO has chosen depression as its theme for this year’s World Health Day, which is celebrated today, April 7th. “These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves,” says WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital are working hard to find new treatment options for those who suffer from mental illness. We thought we’d share just a few examples of recent depression-related research being conducted at Mass General:

A team of researchers is looking into a more nuanced approach to deep brain stimulation treatment that could help patients with traumatic brain injuries, treatment-resistant depression and post traumatic stress. (Here’s another great article on their research from Pacific Standard magazine).

Researchers are looking into new ways to treat suicide risk. Their findings suggest that drugs such as ketamine (typically used as an anesthetic) may alleviate suicidal thoughts.

This NIH-funded study is using smartphones to measure a person’s mental state by analyzing his or her voice, call patterns, location and text messages.

Lastly, the Depression and Clinical Research Program at Mass General is currently conducting a number of studies and seeking participants. Their focus is on testing novel antidepressant treatments and on developing new tools to understand the biological changes that occur in this condition.

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