In the WHO European Region, depression affects around 40 million people, or 4.3% of the population. Depression limits a person’s ability to fully function at work or school and to cope with daily life. At its worst, it can lead to suicide.

Depression is a primary cause of suicide deaths. This also leads to enormous economic losses; in the European Union, the cost of lost productivity due to depression has been estimated at over €70 billion per year. Yet, 3 out of 4 people who suffer from depression do not receive adequate treatment.

WHO/Europe works to raise awareness of the consequences of depression and self-harm, to reduce stigma and discrimination, and to improve access to health care. It supports countries’ efforts to scale up services for depression in nonspecialized health-care settings as part of an integrated approach to chronic disease management. The 2017 World Health Day campaign “Depression: Let’s Talk” also drew attention to this issue.

The European Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020 encourages Member States to develop and implement evidence-based suicide prevention strategies that combine a universal approach with activities to protect vulnerable groups.