Pills may help adults, but most depression has its roots in our early years, and helping children who are struggling could stop it before it begins

Sian was just 14, brought by her misery to the edge of self-harm, when I met her in a cafe at the top end of one of the old mining valleys. Neutral ground. She told me about her rugby-playing older brother and her bright little sister who had lots of pets and wanted to be a vet. She felt that her parents doted on them and that there could be no room in anyone’s heart for her. She told me about her only friend, who had been killed in a road accident just as they went up to big school. About the recent death of her grandmother, who had been the only person she could confide in. And about the GP who had said she was depressed and given her a course of pills.

I thought about Sian again this week. The newspaper headlines across the world were welcoming a major study that confirmed the value of antidepressant medication in the treatment of depression in adults. And so did I. Depression was validated at long last as an illness every bit as serious as physical conditions, that could cause untold human suffering and economic devastation, but...

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".