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Stan Collymore launches Friends in Need

Nine out of ten people with depression are affected by loneliness or the inability to share experiences with others, according to new Depression Alliance survey

Friends in Need a new online and offline community designed to end the loneliness associated with depression launched yesterday, with sports pundit and former footballer Stan Collymore speaking about his experience of depression.

The availability of this supportive community is well-timed as results from a new survey commissioned by the Depression Alliance show that almost half of UK adults (45 per cent) have experienced depression – almost twice as many as the routinely quoted figure of one in four people. The survey also found that 86 per cent had experienced loneliness as an effect of depression, and many found it impossible to access others with the condition despite the availability of peer support as a valuable route to recovery.

Collymore, whose fundraising for the Depression Alliance provided the initial resources to create the Friends in Need, commented:

"Friends In Need is an important initiative. When I spoke out in 1998 I understood fully that depression is a very isolating illness. You can be around friends, you can be around family, and if they don't understand exactly what you're going through it can actually exacerbate issues and matters and make them worse."

Stan Collymore

The Depression Alliance took this opportunity to thank Stan for his help with starting the Friends in Need project by presenting him with a 'Friends in Need Founder' award.

Other surprising results from the survey showed that men and women are closer than expected when it comes to being affected by depression (men at 37 per cent and women at 53 percent), and that men (70 per cent) were almost as likely as women (77 per cent) to find that talking to someone close about things was helpful in maintaining their recovery from depression. The survey also illustrated the impact that depression has on many key areas of life including relationships, self esteem and employment. These figures suggest that recent figures from World Health Organisation, predicting that unipolar depression will be the second leading cause of global disability burden by 2020, may be an underestimate from a UK perspective.

Emer O’Neill, CEO of Depression Alliance commented, "This survey clearly demonstrates that to maintain recovery from depression people need to have access to other people with the condition. The loneliness and isolation that come with depression can have a devastating impact on people from all walks of life. This can be a particular problem for men who often do not have the same social support networks that women have. Previous anecdotal evidence from people who access our services indicated a clear need for people to be able to meet online and face to face in local communities to share experiences by doing ordinary things like having a coffee or going for a walk, and just simply reminding each other that they are not alone. Fortunately, thanks to the fantastic practical support from Stan and others, we have been able to meet this challenge head on and create Friends in Need."

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