World Health Day – Depression research in review

Today is World Health Day, which takes place every year on 7 April. This year’s focus aims to mobilise action on depression which is a leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015. Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives.

Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General, said: “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.”

In the last 12 months we’ve published a number of news stories highlighting the developments in depression and mental health research here at the University.

From using effective goals to treat depression, creating smartphone apps to help people to manage their depression to utilising positive memories and images to help generate positive emotions, our research aims to improve peoples lives.

Could more effective goals be the key to treating depression?
The findings of a new study suggest the treatment of people with clinical depression could be improved by helping them set positive, achievable goals.

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Can a smartphone app help treat anxiety and depression?
In a joint project between ourselves and the University of Manchester researchers have examined the initial trial of a smartphone application designed to help people manage their problems.

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Can positive memories help treat mental health problems?
Researchers have published a study highlighting the effectiveness of using positive memories and images to help generate positive emotions. It has been suggested that savouring positive memories can generate positive emotions. Increasing positive emotion can have a range of benefits including reducing attention to and experiences of threat.

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Lecturer honoured by Forbes magazine for her research into depression
Dr Praveetha Patalay has been featured on Forbes prestigious ’30 under 30 Europe list’ for her research which focuses on the population-level causes and effects of depression in children and adolescents, hoping to improve understanding and treatment of the disease.

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Network to address mental health of children in Eastern Mediterranean
The University and the John Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore have been awarded a £1.9m grant from the US National Institute of Mental Health to lead a network to address child mental health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

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For more information about our mental health research please visit

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