THE BLOG
10/28/2014 12:27 pm ET Updated Dec 28, 2014

Is Treating 350 Million with Depression Critical to Global Development?

It is a 2.5 trillion dollar and growing answer. So the answer is yes. It is not just critical, it is imperative.

According to the World Health Organization, depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide, with over 350 million around the world with the disease and at least 50 percent of those untreated. Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, wrote a great blog of estimating costs from The World Economic Forum of not treating depression, and with numbers like 2.5 trillion and growing, the impact is staggering and something must be done.

The good news? Depression is treatable. It's true, and I think worth repeating. Depression is treatable. And even better news is the cost of treating, as shown in a workplace study by Dr. Philip Wang and colleagues with the National Institute of Mental Health, can often be less expensive than doing nothing.

There are evidence based, effective treatments for depression. Yet still people aren't getting treated. Why? We believe it starts at the top. Our leaders must make eradicating depression a priority.

Our world, via the United Nations, is in the process of mapping out how we are going to achieve a global vision of prosperity, equity, freedom, dignity and peace through the 2015 Post Millennium Development Goals. Yet in that critical document, there is no mention of mental health. Why is this a problem? Because if it isn't written down, and leadership does not make it a priority, it won't get done and we will continue to disrespect and discount what I believe is our most important and game-changing, innovative, problem-solving organ of all; the brain.

I joined #FundaMentalSDG, a global movement, to ask for specific, achievable, measurable goals to be added to the Post Millennium Development Goals because I believe there can be no health of our planet without mental health. We need healthy minds, and people need to understand how to take care of them for optimal performance, especially if we want to reach all of our ambitious objectives of global peace and prosperity. Do you agree? Then please, join us.

How? It is easy. Help us create a global movement to create real, impactful change for brain health on the map:

1. Send a letter on your organization's letterhead to your United Nations representative in support of this initiative. We even have a template and list of country contacts. We are focused on the United States, Ireland, and Kenya, as they are three key players in the UN negotiations. You can find the template here: http://www.fundamentalsdg.org/act-now.html

2. Have your name personally or your organization's logo put on the FundaMentalSDG website in support of this effort. Our list of supporters grows by the day, and we need yours.

3. Like the Facebook page, share with friends and family at Facebook.

4. Tweet. Encourage others to tweet. Retweet: We must include mental health in United Nations Post Millennium Development Goals. There is no #health without #mentalhealth @FundamentalSDG @UN #FundaMentalSDG

5. Take the Post Millennium Development Goal survey, and under 'other' ask them to add mental health to the overall health goals, via FundamentalSDG recommendations.

I received a powerful letter years ago from Alan Ezagui, while he was Director of the Potomac Ridge Behavioral Health Foundation, commending iFred on our work and then going on to provide a very prolific quote, one that I think is quite relevant here. It is from an event he attended with the esteemed Congressman Patrick Kennedy where Mr. Kennedy said:

Until a cause becomes a (social) movement, authentic, even transformational change, will not occur. The '60s gave us the Civil Rights Movement, the '90s the Aids Movement. Then, he challenged us to make Mental Health the 21st Century Movement.

Join us at FundamentalSDG in creating a global movement for mental health. I think it could be the single most important thing we do this year for mental health, impacting us all in ways we never imagined for centuries to come. So it is with my deepest, most sincere heart and mind that I thank you, thank you, thank you.