In 2019, Portugal was regarded as having one of the highest rates of depression among the EU countries. Chronic depression was reported to be as high as 16.4% in women alone. However, this isn’t exactly new. Portugal has a culture of general melancholy and moodiness. So much so that Portugal’s citizens have their own word for this emotion that can’t be easily translated. It’s a longing sense of absence and a constant desire for something else other than the present. In fact, some people welcome this sadness, considering it a beautiful emotion that shouldn’t be shunned or avoided. But there comes a point where this sadness can become too much. Some people don’t know how to get away from it, leading to chronic depression.
According to the World Health Organization, India is considered to be the most depressed country in the world, followed by China and then the United States. At least 6.5% of the Indian population suffers from some kind of serious mental disorder. What’s surprising is that there doesn’t seem to be a difference between the rural and urban areas. One of the biggest problems in dealing with mental health in India is that there is a shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists in the country. As of 2014, there was an estimate of one per 100,000 people. And of those 100,000 people, there is an average suicide rate of about 11.
The financial crisis took a big toll on Greece, leaving about 27% of the population unemployed. The loss of wages and benefits increased the rate of depression and suicide. In fact, over 50% of the people holding a stigma about mental health. However, since 2014, the mentality has changed, and the stigma against mental health dropped to about 36%. Organizations began to develop to provide the help that people needed when it came to their mental health. Even the government got involved with creating campaigns that increased awareness of mental health. They encouraged people to seek help.
Belarus is ranked number 10 in the world regarding total suicide per 100,000 people. Starting in the late 90s, the numbers have started to go down, but in recent years, they have started going back up again. What seems to be one of the leading causes is alcohol consumption and abuse. The majority of those who committed suicide had been abusing alcohol for at least a year. It doesn’t help that alcohol is cheap and very easy to obtain, which further exacerbates the problem. To make matters worse, many Belarusians don’t seek the help that they need because they’re afraid of going on record as receiving psychiatric help. As a result, very few people who have committed suicide have sought out any kind of psychiatric support beforehand.
Finland is usually ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. But that doesn’t mean that every single person who lives there has positive mental health. Despite their low unemployment rates and good healthcare, some still struggle with mental health. In fact, many experts believe that this “happy” attitude glosses over any real problems that they may exist. Some believe that when it comes to the younger demographic, they wouldn’t know how to recognize depression. Perhaps, they cannot acknowledge that they’re having depressive symptoms. They may not know how or when to seek treatment. A 2017 report by the Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues shows a link between mental health and substance abuse. Recently, the Finnish have an increase in alcohol use and abuse, as well as drug use.
Historically, Lithuania has had high suicide rates over the decades, especially when it comes to the male population. The rates went down in the 1990s, but they are still higher than in their neighboring countries. A number of factors have been linked to depression and suicide, such as wages, education levels, alcohol consumption, and marital status, just to name a few. Another factor was the societal role of traditional masculine norms influencing the need to ask for help. In turn, it creates a stigma against mental health. However, these issues are now out in the open so that people can talk about them, especially with the development of hotlines and reforms in hospitals so that mental health is also a focus of a person’s well-being.
According to a study conducted in 2017 by WHO, 5.5% of Russians have been diagnosed with depression. This study took into account several age groups as well as other factors that played a role in determining the development of depression. One such factor was the number of daily communication people had with others; as often as three times a day seemed to decrease the chances of developing depression.
In older individuals, their overall well-being played a role. That includes activity within the community, communication outside of the family, and the social environment within the family. Another factor was exercise. Those who exercise regularly throughout the week are 3.5 times less likely to have depression. Of course, this becomes a problem in the colder seasons in Russia when there is lower overall physical activity.
Although 68% of Cuban residents are satisfied with the health care system of their country, a decent percentage of the population is diagnosed with depression. According to a study from in 2013, suicide was the leading cause of death in the country. Almost 25% of the patients who went to health care facilities received diagnoses of depression. However, integrating both physical and mental health care into society has helped curtail these numbers. The big problem is that medical doctors and psychologists receive a lot less than, say, those who work in the tourism industry. As a result, it leads to a two-tier economic system with flaws.
Mental health problems are quite prevalent among the citizens of New Zealand. Almost 50% of the population will meet the criteria for some mental illness diagnosis at some point in their lives. A study conducted in 2015 revealed that only 25% of the population reported having a high level of mental well-being. Unfortunately, their mental health services are becoming overwhelmed to the point that they’re focusing on crisis care instead of general treatment. The number of mental distress in children and young adults is increasing, as well as the rates of self-harm. These numbers are a result of the country focusing on the services that help the most serious needs, resulting in an incomplete system where some problems fall through the cracks.
A study conducted in 2017 revealed that in Moldova, three out of four people who suffered from major depression did not receive the right amount of treatment. Moldova recognized this and realized that increasing treatment wouldn’t fix the problem. Instead, they knew they needed to remove the stigma associated with mental health so that people were more willing to come forward about their problems. Prejudice and discrimination are big factors as to why people don’t come forward or delay treatment for as long as possible. The low spending by the government for treatment hasn’t helped either, resulting in huge gaps that take place between diagnosis and treatment.
Barbados is a small island in the Caribbean, though it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. It is considered a high-income country, but that doesn’t mean that all is well. Suicide is one of the biggest causes of death for the citizens of Barbados, with plenty of factors that influence these rates. Some of the most common ones are unhealthy diets and physical inactivity, which has led to a high percentage of teenage boys and girls being overweight or obese.
In Spain, it’s somewhat challenging to navigate services related to mental health. In people over the age of 15, one in 10 people will be diagnosed with a mental health problem, and the earlier it’s taken care of, the better. But with the hurdles in the way, many people don’t receive the care that they need. Although healthcare in Spain is free, there are regional differences in the kind of care that’s accepted, leaving some people not getting the same quality care as others.
Bulgaria is known for having the second lowest rate of chronic depression in the European Union. Although that’s something that could be boasted about, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people with depression who still need help. Only 3.2% of the population reported having depression, with that 3.2% being split between 2.1% of men and 4.2% of women dealing with depression. This isn’t surprising, of course; women are more prone to depression than men.
There is something of a stigma around mental health. Those who deal with depression often take sick leave. Employers do not like this, and it leads to employees keeping the problem to themselves. This country has a healthcare system that lacks organization, which makes mental health issues worse.
Germany is well above other European countries, establishing ways to determine and treat mental illness, and they’ve been doing this since the 1990s. However, they still have similar rates of mental illness to other developed countries. What sets them apart from the rest is that they’re determined to find, diagnose, and treat those with poor mental health, providing a vast support system to help anyone in need. Someone with a mental illness is provided with extensive healthcare services and financial support to help them through these troubling times. There are also programs set aside to give these people with jobs. And the German government goes out of its way to remove any stigma surrounding mental illness so that people don’t feel judged when they seek help.
Two of the biggest factors that play a part in depression in the Bahamas are poverty and public opinion. A lack of resources can make it difficult for anyone to get the help that they need. Discrimination against depression leads people not to want to seek help either because they’re afraid of public opinion of them. The combination of these factors creates a complicated problem that no one knows how to get away from. Once someone seeks out mental health, the public deems them “crazy” and labels them as violent people who pose a risk to the community. With the way the trends are going, it’s expected that more than 50% of the Caribbean population will have a mental disorder at some point in their lives.
Paraguay’s mental health services only receive about 1.84% of the overall healthcare budget, which isn’t a lot to work with. For this reason, much of the population has to go without any kind of treatment for mental health disorders. Outside of general hospitals, only two hospitals are dedicated to mental healthcare, with only 5.11 beds for every 100,000 people. Of course, it was only in 1990 that there was a shift in the country’s idea of mental health. Instead of institutionalism, they switched to community care and provided treatment instead of locking people up. There are still steps that have to be taken in Paraguay, such as creating a Mental Health Act, having a suicide policy in place, and providing rehabilitation for those who use psychoactive drugs.
The problem with determining depression in Trinidad and Tobago is that research is limited. A study looked at 14-18 year-olds in 2003 which showed that the last 10% of the population was depressed. By 2013, the government determined that over 50,000 of the population were living with depression. But are there steps in place to handle it? There is still a stigma around mental health, with a lot of traditional beliefs centered around depression. Many people don’t even believe that depression is a real thing, while others are convinced it is called “obeah” or witchcraft. Getting rid of this stigma and educating people on the realness of depression can open the eyes of not only those who are diagnosed but also their family members.
A poll from 2020 shows the population of young people in Poland have a higher rate of depression now than the past 20 years. This is contrary to previous years; younger Poles expressed feeling more depressed, helpless, or fatigued than the older section of the population. Of course, this study was during the pandemic, when there were greater isolation and distance learning instances for those in school.
The stigma against mental illness isn’t helping either. Those who receive a diagnosis have a lot of things going against them. Potential employers are less likely to look at their resumes. They can’t get married without a court order. Plus, going to the hospital gives them the ‘crazy’ label. Life is made very difficult for them in response, so it’s difficult for them to become a functioning member of society again.
Unfortunately, there is no accurate data on depression rates in Slovakia. The main reason is that they only track the incident of someone having depression when they go to a doctor or psychologist. Of course, not many people are actually doing that. In 2003, the World Health Organization discovered about 18% had depression for more than six months. Although most people believe that they lead pretty good lives. Why? Because they have children and families and having good paying jobs. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t experience depression. Besides, not admitting that people can have depression is the main problem. What also doesn’t help is that pharmaceutical companies started prescribing drugs as treatment first before making an appropriate diagnoses.
Although the suicide rate in Slovenia dropped between 2002 and 2006, it slowly started to rise again around 2008. That’s mainly because the number of visits to a physician is low compared to other European countries, especially regarding mental health. A study shows the prominence of mental health disorders before an individual’s suicide. They discovered that only 1.8% of first-time visits were for a mental health disorder. It doesn’t help that there are generally about 85.6 physicians per 100,000 people; in Slovenia, that number is 49.6 per 100,000. They take steps to improve this figure by educating family physicians about the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. As a result, the number of suicide have decreased over the years.
Since 2019, depression in Austria has nearly doubled. Of course, this can be attributed to the pandemic lockdown, but work still needs to be done to decrease these numbers. With extreme isolation and citizens losing their family members and friends to COVID, it was a given that depression would be on the rise. However, previous studies have shown that only 50% of the population with mental disorders are likely to seek professional help. This is due to the stigma that still surrounds mental health. Patients have a hard time confiding in a doctor, and there is a general lack of understanding regarding how mental health problems should be cared for.
Croatia has not yet adopted a national strategy for preventing suicide, despite how high the country’s suicide rate is. In fact, it’s higher than the European and global average, signifying a real problem. In 2020 alone, 566 people died by suicide. The government examined what was happening in the countries around them and has taken steps to implement the same strategies to help curtail those numbers.
One of the biggest things they focus on is timely interventions to prevent depression from sliding into suicidal tendencies. They have put in place stringent controls over the sale of certain types of medications and even installed safety nets on roofs and bridges. However, the government has still done very little to promote mental health, so a majority of the population isn’t even aware of the help they can get and where they can go.
Italy has a big problem talking about depression. In a survey conducted with 1001 participants, 75% believed that people with depression should avoid talking about their issues. A large number of those participants also thought that depression is a condition that they can manage alone. That is, without external help from professionals. Plus, they consider it a “socially dangerous” illness. To make things even worse, they also believe that going to a primary care physician for depression is embarrassing. They think that physicians have better things to do than treat patients with depression.
Only last year, the United Arab Emirates passed a mental health care draft that would provide people living with mental health issues and depression with fair treatment. Under this law, patients should receive the best standards of care. They should receive privacy and have rights as well as the promotion of integration of psychiatric patients into the community. The fact it takes the UAE this long to create such a law signifies that there has been a long-standing stigma against mental illnesses and depression. The law goes a little further into protecting these patients. Anyone who violates any part of this law will be subject to fines or imprisonment. But this is after years of the World Health Organization reporting that the UAE had one of the highest rates of depression in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. At least the government is finally taking steps to rectify this.
Denmark definitely has a different approach to treating depression. Instead of forcing medications on those living with depression, they require them to participate in cultural activities. They also replace clinical staff with trained lay people. It reduces the need for the medical staff to be present to help other people with medical problems. These lay people can help those with depression to gather in small groups. Then, they partake in activities that can reduce stress and anxiety. In turn, it helps relieve depression. It also places people with depression together so that people with similar experiences can talk with each other and provide aid where they can. This has been considered a more cost-effective way of helping people with depression, especially when re-integrating them into society because they have a larger support network than what they started with.
Chile conducted a study that examined the differences in mental health outcomes between the general population of Chile and international migrants. Although the government has taken steps to improve mental healthcare, there is still a general lack of funding and low prioritization, leaving plenty of people vulnerable to depression and other mental health disorders. Although Chile is a high-income country, the healthcare system is off.
There is both a public health insurance system and a private health insurance system. The rest of the population receives the Armed Forces and Police insurance. It can be challenging to figure out where immigrants fit into any of these systems; in addition, more people turn to private care because of the lack of funding in the public healthcare system. The results demonstrated that the higher up the economic ladder a person was, the more likely they were to ask for sick leave regarding their mental health.
It isn’t typical for medical students in Kuwait to consider psychology. People consider it a stigma profession and a waste of time. As a result, it creates a very large gap in diagnosing and treating people’s mental health. The stigma is so strong that employers refuse to hire those with mental illnesses. Plus, landlords have rejected them as tenants. This leaves many people with nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help. Sometimes, families take them, hide them from the rest of society, and receive “exorcisms.” Why? Because they believe that the source of depression or mental illness is a result of a lack of faith in God or some kind of possession. Minor changes are being made in impactful ways to combat these stereotypes and stigmas, though the difference is a bit slow.
St. Lucia is a high-middle-income country. However, there are still pockets of poverty throughout the country, making it difficult for some people to seek the medical attention they need. This leaves many people with depression with no recourse, further exacerbating their conditions. They have increased their mental health services over the years. However, there remains a shortage of community-based services to reach areas that aren’t immediately near their facilities. The national health industry receives about 8% of funding, while only 4% really goes to mental healthcare. Anything community-based is completely funded from hospital funds, reducing how strong these care services can be for patients. In addition, out of the 34 health centers on the island, only 9 of them offer any kind of mental health services.
Mental heal issues are quite prevalent in Iran. About 20% of the population have depression, a mental illness, or a substance disorder. About 60% of those people never receive treatment for their conditions, and only 15-20% receive proper treatment. There seems to be no difference between rural and urban areas when it comes to rates of depression either, signifying that there’s a bigger problem in play. And the problem is that only 3% of healthcare funding goes to mental health. Many underlying causes of depression in Iran include unemployment, poverty, and the increased mental decline rate as citizens age. In response, Iran has started increasing their spending for mental health, though it is unclear how much this has improved the rates of depression.
Albania has a real shortage of people they need to treat depression. Of the entire population, there are only 25 psychiatrists to help all of them. In fact, Albania ranks last in all of Europe for the number of doctors who specialize in psychiatry. This is not great because, according to an INSTAT survey, 60-70% of Albanian adults suffered from depression at some point. The number of people living with depression has increased over the years, but it isn’t clear whether this is an actual increase in cases or if more people are just coming forward about their mental health. Albania has increased its importation of specific medication to help treat depression.
A report from the World Health Organization back in 2011 stated that the population of France was the most likely to suffer a major depressive episode within their lifetime. This information doesn’t seem to be anything new since France consumes more antidepressants than any other country in the world. Of course, many French people had a problem with the study, stating that the consumption of antidepressants wasn’t an indication of depression but the willingness of a doctor to prescribe them in the first place. There are still a few stigmas surrounding mental health, but the government is taking steps to identify biomarkers that make it possible to make faster diagnoses.
Ireland has had a good track record of decreasing suicide rates yearly since 2011. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve thrown in the towel. They continue to take the appropriate steps to keep these numbers down by examining and understanding the first signs of depression, the underlying causes, and which treatments work best for different people. These include therapy, antidepressant medication, and electroconvulsive therapy conducted under anesthesia. However, even with these programs in place, Ireland’s rate of depression and other mental disorders is still 18.5%. This figure is higher than the European average in 2018.
Suriname has had a mental health policy around since 2007. However, the approach itself has been problematic. There is no strategy involved, and it’s not easy to understand. It doesn’t help that the downsizing of the mental health hospital that came up with this policy has reduced the monitoring system as well as the protection of human rights. Any mental health services are connected to only one national psychiatric hospital, which is a one-day treatment facility. In addition, there are only five outpatient facilities headed by psychiatrists, making it difficult for anyone needing help to get sufficient treatment. The maximum stay is 99 days, and there has been no increase in mental health beds in the mental hospital, despite the increasing numbers of those with mental disorders.
One would think that a place like the Netherlands wouldn’t have a high rate of depression, but they do. In fact, they have one of the higher rates of depression in Europe. Nearly 16% of the population suffers from depression, but some Dutch psychiatrists have stated that these numbers should not be interpreted as the Dutch needing more help than other countries. Many point to the Dutch being naturally gloomy, but they still have access to the help they need whenever they need it. The Netherlands boasts about having 139 psychiatric beds for every 100,000 people, which is well above the average. And they’re aiming to cut this number by a third in order to focus on more community-based programs and approaches so that there is less pressure on the health system.
Argentina passed the National Mental Health Law in 2010, which focused on providing alternative treatments to help those living with depression. There are currently 162 mental hospitals taking in roughly 12,000 people every year, which puts a definite strain on resources. To make the problem more complicated, there is still insufficient visibility regarding mental health issues, and education on these issues also doesn’t seem to be a priority. Due to these factors, mental health disorders and depression are on the rise, and there is little to no recourse. Funding is low, and with depression being considered an “invisible” disease, people don’t know where to go or whom to turn to when they start experiencing symptoms.
Regarding mental health, Canada has a full parity system for mental health services, unlike the patchwork of private insurers that the United States has. Studies revealed that Canadians were more likely to seek mental health treatment from their family doctor than Americans; in addition, Canadians were more likely to see a psychiatrist or psychologist after visiting their family doctor. Many believe this is mostly due to the available access; Canada has little to no barriers to accessing the health care system, so patients can seek out treatment whenever they feel it is necessary. There also seems to be less stigma involved regarding mental health so that there is no embarrassment attached to mental health treatment.
In Grenada, people don’t openly discuss depression. People will actually go out of their way to avoid talking about it. They might just say they don’t feel well. They don’t know how to put what they’re experiencing into words. That can leave people feeling very alone with their emotions. And because of that, people turn to other “healing methods.” One of those methods in Grenada tends to be substance abuse. More people use alcohol or drugs as Band-Aids for their mental problems, making depression more prevalent. We aren’t sure what they are doing to decrease the depression. However, bringing the issue to light is definitely one of the first steps to starting this critical conversation.
In Ethiopia, depression contributes to about 6.5% of burdensome diseases. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of information to determine exactly the percentage of Ethiopia’s population who live with depression. Two surveys estimate that it was somewhere between 5% and 9%. When they did a further study, some factors regarding who was most at risk for depression came into play. At the top of the list were pregnant women and college students. They took other factors into account to determine other at-risk groups. These include those living in rural areas, older individuals, and those who abused substances. Ethnicity and religion did not play a role since the prevalence of depression were the same across these groups.
The pandemic definitely took a toll on those living in Israel, with many people finding themselves unable to bounce back into what was once their normal lives. As many as one in five young adults reported having high levels of depression. The country’s biggest concern was that depression rates would continue increasing even after the lockdowns ended. And for that, effective steps have to be taken. But first, the country needs to get past its stigma toward mental health. Without that barrier, it becomes nigh impossible for depressed individuals to get the attention and professional help they need. The problem is even more difficult to deal with for those who come from a lower socioeconomic status.
South Africa is considered a country that is always in a state of transition. There has been rapid industrialization and urbanization. So much to the point that people find it difficult to keep up with all the changes taking place. This has led to deeply-rooted inequalities, especially in terms of race and economic status. The prevalence of other infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, has also made it difficult for people to find regular and happy lives. That is why depression is so prevalent there. New cases of depression are popping up all the time in different areas of South Africa, and there is little recourse as to how these numbers can be combatted. As a result, people aren’t getting the help they need or don’t even know where to start looking.
Costa Rica has been facing a slow-growing crisis in which many of its citizens don’t know what to do. The country isn’t keeping up with the overall global scheme when it comes to treating mental health. They are essentially left behind compared to most other countries in the world. Many people in Costa Rica don’t know how to recognize their symptoms as depression. Instead, they push it aside as “just feeling tired” or blaming their feelings on something else. The lack of security in all aspects of life in Costa Rica makes it relatively easy for anyone to fall into a depressive episode; the problem lies with how to get themselves back out of it. The resources are a little lacking, there are very few mental health professionals, and inpatient treatment requires travel of long distances just to get help.
Colombia is mostly known to the rest of the world as having high rates of assaults, assassinations, and homicides. Acts of violence leave little room for hope regarding a person’s future, which can quickly slide into depression. Mental health rates are higher in rural areas with more trauma and substance abuse. So what are they doing to address the issue, exactly? There has been the development of many mental health institutes to combat these numbers. One of the biggest ones is The Children of the Andes Foundation, which focuses on the protection of the rights of Colombian children who deal with violence. They create positive environments to minimize the risk of depression in the future.
In Peru, those with mental health issues are deemed “the other,” meaning they are treated with less dignity and respect. The citizen of Peru would prefer to exclude and discriminate against these people than to expend any effort trying to help them through their problems. Even the psychiatrists in Peru have had a traditional approach to mental health, deeming mental illness a significant obstacle to the country’s development. However, it is due to the intervention of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) that these ideologies have begun to change. They needed to integrate mental and physical health services into the country and create an information system. Plus, they should promote mental health to remove the stigma.
Despite Sweden being listed as one of the happiest countries in the world, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have citizens who don’t experience depression. In fact, all of these so-called “happy” countries may not be as full of joy as they purport themselves to be. According to a study conducted by Eurofound, 41% of Sweden’s young population were at risk of depression. This is a 60% increase in children who needed emergency accommodations between 2011 and 2017. The problem lies in providing young people with access to the social facilities they need before their mental health declines. The younger generation is quickly becoming a dwindling group, so people pay very little attention to their concerns and problems.