UCLA will mark World Health Day on April 7, commemorating the founding of the World Health Organization, with a wide spectrum of activities on campus focused on Depression: Let’s Talk, this year’s theme selected by WHO because it affects people of all ages, from all walks of life and in all countries.

According to recent studies cited by WHO, approximately 350 million people suffer from depression, making it the largest cause of disability worldwide. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among those 15 to 29 years old.

Influenced by an earlier WHO study, UCLA determined several years ago that massive action was needed to help unlock depression’s mysteries. Campus leaders decided that a major, concerted effort would accelerate the innovation process and more quickly lead to an improved understanding of the fundamental biology, environmental factors, treatment and barriers to treatment related to this devastating disease.

In 2015, UCLA publicly committed to launch the Depression Grand Challenge. Experts from across the campus are now partnering with external collaborators to pursue the ambitious goal of cutting the burden of depression in half by 2050 and eliminating it by the end of the century.

To raise awareness of this major mental health concern and of the resources available to those who want help, UCLA has planned a number of activities to be held throughout April. Here are some of the events taking place on campus:

  • A social media campaign started by the Depression Grand Challenge will recognize a number of individuals as Depression Heroes, people who have been increasing or changing the public conversation about depression by sharing their experiences and helping others understand that they do not need to suffer alone. UCLA’s first #DepressionHero is Brad Feld, an entrepreneur, blogger and author who writes openly about what depression feels like. Listen to a Facebook Live conversation between Feld and Nelson Freimer, UCLA’s Maggie G. Gilbert Professor of Psychiatry, who directs the grand challenge and the UCLA Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics. The conversation will take place Tuesday, April 4, from 4:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
  • Cynthia Lee/UCLA
    A drawing that someone has made and attached to the art installation
    An interactive art installation, “Expanding Dialogue,” is on display from now through 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 7, on Royce Quad. If it rains, the artwork will be relocated to Powell Library. Designed by Kristin McWharter, a graduate student in design media arts, “Expanding Dialogue” invites passersby to add to the conversation about depression and mental health. At designated times, people will be able to share their thoughts on the topic by writing or sketching on notched discs of corrugated plastic. The discs can then be fit into the installation, which becomes a physical manifestation of an expanding   conversation about depression. Come by and read people’s thoughtful comments and then add your own.
  •  You’re invited to an open house Friday, April 7, to learn about the Resilience Peer Network, a collective of more than 200 UCLA undergraduate and graduate students trained to support fellow students. Check this updated website for a location and time. Resilience peers are trained in active listening and empathic responding; boundaries, privacy, and ethics; and applied positive psychology principles and resilience skills, among others. UCLA students can join support groups led by trained peers through a research collaboration with the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge. This treatment study offers a proven internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy for eligible students.
  • Plan on attending Mental Wealth: A Conference to Prioritize Mental Health, co-sponsored by All of Us and Active Minds. On Saturday, April 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. there will be keynote addresses by UCLA faculty and student leaders in mental health, interactive workshops and a resource fair, all designed to de-stigmatize and revitalize mental health. RSVP is required.
  • The Bruin Consent Coalition presents the Clothesline Project, a display made up of T-shirts that feature text and images created by the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. This art activism project, set to be presented from April 4 to April 6 from 9.a.m. to 4 p.m., can be visited in North and South Dickson Courts.  Refer to the BCC Facebook page for more information.
  • On Sunday, April 23, Drake Stadium will be the site for the Out of the Darkness Walk, a fundraising event for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Registration begins at noon, followed by the walk from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

For details on all the events, a list is available with updated information here. Here is a list of  resources to help with anxiety and depression. You can follow UCLA Grand Challenges on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about planned activities to mark World Health Day.