One in five people will be affected by depression at some stage in their
life. During this year’s campaign, Depression Alliance – the leading
charity for people affected by depression – will appeal to members of
the general public to help raise awareness of the condition and fight
the stigma that persists around it.
Depression is one of the most common medical conditions in Britain
today. More than 2.9 million people in the UK are diagnosed as having
depression at any one time, with the World Health Organisation predicting
that it will be second only to heart disease as the biggest global health
burden by 2020 . And yet, as many as three in four cases are neither
recognised nor treated .
National Depression Week 2004: 1 in 5 (19th – 25th April) will fight
the stigma that continues to stop people seeking and finding help. It
will raise awareness of the prevalence of depression and provide much
needed knowledge about the illness and the help available. The week
will be based around a number of initiatives, including the launch of
both the All Party Group on Depression at the House of Commons and the
findings of the Allies Against Depression survey, the first survey in
five years to assess public attitudes towards depression.
Depression Alliance’s Chief Executive, Jim Thomson, says:
"Depression is often seen as the Cinderella of illnesses. Nobody
pays much attention to it, it’s an embarrassment and something not to
be spoken about, and as a result it never gets invited to the Ball with
the more glamorous and politically motivating issues.
Indeed, as depression accounts for 30-40% of the work burden of primary
care – yet qualifies for only 4% of the "mental health" quality
points in the new GP contract – it’s highly unlikely that depression
could afford a ticket to the ball, let alone a gilded coach."
For organisations and individuals wanting to hold their own depression
awareness-raising event, Depression Alliance will be distributing free
1 in 5 campaign and fundraising packs. A 1 in 5 T-shirt costing just
£5 will also be available for those wanting to show their support
throughout the week.
To request a campaign pack, or order a 1 in 5 T-shirt, please call
0845 123 23 20, or e-mail [email protected]
The Queen’s Speech 2003
Mental Health legislation was not mentioned:
Depression Alliance campaigned vigorously to ensure that the Draft Mental
Health Bill 2002 was withdrawn. The charity feared that the proposed
legislation was unfair, unworkable, highly stigmatising and would contravene
Articles 3 and 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
However, Depression Alliance was surprised that a reformed Mental Health
Bill was not included in this year’s Queen’s speech and is now seeking
clarification from the government on its proposed course of action with
regards to plans for future mental health legislation. It will be difficult
for anyone involved in mental health to plan ahead until this matter
is resolved but we are pleased to note the Health Minister’s commitment
to working with stakeholders to get the Bill right.
Currently people affected by mental health problems receive inadequate
care due to a lack of community psychiatric services with thousands
of people having to fall back on primary care. Without massive extra
resources, any new legislation will fail in its objective of protecting
good mental health. We welcome the Health Secretary’s commitment to
extra resources and support Dr Louis Appleby’s (the National Clinical
Director for Mental Health) recent calls for greater transparency in
how that money is spent.
Reforms to Charity Law
Depression Alliance welcomes reforms to charity law. They should breathe
new life into the Charity Commission and clarify the role of charitable
organisations in the public eye. We particularly welcome the self-regulation
aspects as they will enable us to promote better practice in fundraising.
If the government delivers on these plans then they will have succeeded
in reforming a 400 year sector at a stroke."
Disability discrimination rights
Increasing the rights and opportunities of disabled people in Britain
is a move which must be welcomed, especially where depression and other
mental illness is concerned. The gaps in disability right’s law, especially
for mental health, have become increasingly apparent and need now to
Living with fear – 85% of patients
worry about their depression returning
New research from Depression Alliance reveals that 85% of patients
who have experienced depression are worried about suffering further
bouts of the illness. The results of the survey of 1010 patients carried
out by Taylor Nelson Sofres on behalf of Depression Alliance is published
this month in the Journal of Current Medical Research and Opinion (CMR&O).
It found that about a third of the people who had experienced depression
reported overt fear or anxiety that their depression would return1b.
Unfortunately for many this fear becomes a reality with around nine
out of 10 of those with depression experiencing at least one repeat
Dr Chris Manning, Honorary Vice President of Depression Alliance and
co-author of the paper in CMRO commented, ‘Whilst I am heartened that
the majority of people questioned were taking a more holistic, proactive
approach to managing their own depression with activities such as cognitive
therapy, attending support groups, and participating in exercise, it
remains scandalous that 85% still worry that they will have further
bouts of depression. This concern is not acceptable when there are treatments
such as SSRIs that have been shown to prevent depression returning.
It is vital that we also ensure that people are treated with such medicines
appropriately and are fully informed of any side effects or sudden discontinuation
The survey went on to reveal that 65% of patients admitted to having
stopped taking their medication on at least one occasion.1d Guidelines
from the British Association for Psychopharmacology recommend that treatment
should be continued for at least six months from the point that mood
is the same as it was before the patient became depressed2a, as it is
estimated that without treatment from this point between one quarter
and one third of patients will relapse into depression.2b
A GP survey supported by PriMHE (Primary Care Mental Health Education)
was carried out in tandem, which questioned 200 GPs. Their responses
would suggest that very few GPs (5%) follow the BAP guidelines with
nearly a third following no guidelines at all.1e This is further reinforced
by the finding that of the GPs questioned only 13% would treat for more
than six months and just 36% for up to six months.
Dr Lisa Silver a GP from Oxfordshire, commented ‘Although there is
a wealth of information and guidance on treatment and management of
depression, there still appears to be confusion amongst GPs. With one
in five people likely to suffer depression in their lives, it is vital
that GPs update their knowledge in this area so that they are in a position
to treat and inform those experiencing depression adequately.’
1) Manning C, Marr J. The ‘Real Life Burden of Depression’ Surveys –
GP and Patient Perspective on Treatment and Management of Recurrent
Depression. Current Medical Research & Opinion 2003; 19(6): 526-531
2) Anderson IM et al. Evidence-based guidelines for treating depressive
disorders with antidepressants: a revision of the 1993 British Association
for Psychopharmacology guidelines. On behalf of the Consensus Meeting;
endorsed by the British Association for Psychopharmacology. J Psychopharmacology
National Depression Week 2003
National Depression Week is now one of the most successful initiatives
in the busy awareness campaign calendar. Support for the campaign grows
year on year, reaching an ever widening audience of health professionals,
politicians and the general public. Working through a variety of media,
including the press, our publications and the internet, we have made
real progress in changing the way depression is viewed in the 21st century.
National Depression Week 2003 concentrated on one of the most frightening
aspects of the illness – depression in young people. Distressingly,
20% of all deaths by young people are by suicide, the large majority
of whom are affected by depression. Depression can strike at any age
but it is more common in the young. For more information please click
Mental Health Bill 2002 defeated!
Thanks to all who helped defeat the Draft Mental Health Bill 2002.
We believe that the Draft Bill was rejected for 6 key reasons:
It contravened Articles 3 and 5 of the European Convention on Human
It was highly stigmatising and will deter people with mental illness
from seeking help.
It was likely to lead to a "safety first" culture in which
people are detained due to a perception of risk rather than any actual
threat to themselves and/or others.
It would have resulted in more bureaucracy leading to less patient
It would have lead to people receiving inadequate services due to
bed blocking, overstretching of community psychiatric services and
thousands of people having to fall back on primary care services.
Without massive extra resources, it would have failed in its objective
of preventing people with mental illnesses committing homicide and
suicide; and would have made ordinary mental health care unworkable
We must now keep the pressure on Government to ensure that any proposed
changes to mental health law are just and workable. Watch this space!
For Depression Alliance’s full response to the bill, click
That Unrealistic Workloads Are To Blame For Increasing Rates of Depression
And Stress At Work.
The results of a survey released as part of the National Depression
Week 2002 campaign by Depression Alliance clearly show that many
people with depression who have sought help from their employers are
still being made ill through unrealistic workloads and bad management.
The results, launched at the start of National Depression Week (8th
– 14th April 2002), which concentrated on depression and work, shows
that employers can no longer ignore a condition that is as dangerous
as cancer and heart disease.
The UK now has one of the highest attempted suicide rates in Europe,
with a massive 50% increase since 1990. At least three-quarters of suicides
are the result of depression, with more than 7,000 people taking their
own lives each year in the UK and Ireland.
One of the most striking results from the survey of 200 people was the
number who had had told their employers about their illness but who
had received little or no support from managers and were struggling
under unrealistic workloads. Worryingly, over a quarter of people
interviewed (29%) felt their depression was caused or made worse by
unrealistic workloads, with 35% of people blaming bad management. This
has serious implications for employers everywhere as the number of people
off sick from work increases, costing industry billions of pounds each
Depression Alliance’s Director, Jim Thomson, says:
"It is incredible that at the beginning of the third Millennium,
with employers demanding ever-greater commitment from and exerting ever-greater
pressure on employees, depression and stress are by and large not taken
seriously in the workplace. The employee affected by depression, often
wary of turning to the employer, simply has no release valve".
In another blow to employers, when asked whether workers felt they were
always offered the support they needed only 11% were able to say yes.
Surprisingly, results show that many more people are finding it easier
to inform their colleagues and managers of their illness with only 1.5%
of interviewees declaring that they had not disclosed their illness
to anyone. However, most people interviewed (23%) were only prompted
to tell their employer of their illness after they had been unwell for
a period. With people now being more open about their condition, Depression
Alliance is calling for the government and employers to act quickly
and responsibly in supporting workers and those who are unable to work
through depression and stress.
As part of National Depression Week, Depression Alliance has launched
its training programme aimed at employers and employees to help them
better cope with depression and stress in the workplace. The message
behind this year’s National Depression Week is that early intervention
and a better understanding of depression and stress in the workplace
will save time, money and lives.
Members of Depression Alliance gathered at the Headquarters of the Mothers
Union in London on July 5 for the charity’s Annual General Meeting.
It was the first to be held since it became a Company Limited by Guarantee
earlier this year.
Anne Brookes the Depression Alliance Chair led the meeting. The reports
spoke of a positive vibrant charity that was giving more help to increasing
numbers of people. The teams in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh have worked
very hard to build a stronger, more focussed and responsive organisation.
Services remained very popular and A Single Step had been re-launched
in a different format to meet the changing needs of the charity. The
website had grown from an average of 6500 individual visits a week at
the start of the year to an incredible 20,000 a week at the end of the
year. The Communications section had expanded during the year, making
more resource material available to enquirers and dealing with a growing
number of media consultations. Financially the charity ended the year
with a small surplus. However, despite fundraising in the voluntary
sector being highly competitive and mental illness not a popular cause,
our drive to raise funds for campaigning and to support the services
remains a high priority.
The rest of the morning was given to a brilliant lecture by Dr Tim
Cantopher, the Medical Director of the Priory Hospital, Sturt. His theme,
based on his recently published book of the same title was Depressive
Illness, the Curse of the Strong. His hypothesis went clean against
the beliefs of many depressed people who think that their illness is
a sign of weakness. He argued that far from being a sign of weakness,
depression was often associated with strong caring people who were trying
to over-achieve and to care too much – he compared it to a fuse in an
electrical circuit, a means of defence against excessive and damaging
strain. He then outlined ways by which those affected could cope with
their problems and come through them.
Lunch was provided, then members spent the afternoon in discussion
groups. It was good to welcome Danny Jackson and Shawn Martin on board
as Trustees. We still have six vacancies on the trustee board and are
actively looking for appropriately qualified people to join us – please
contact Anne or Alison if you would like to know more.
The day was expertly organised by Julia Cosby at one of the best venues
that we have ever used. The atmosphere was optimistic and positive about
the future. Almost more important it was one of friendship, mutual support
and compassion; for all its professionalism DA has not lost the personal
touch that has always been at its heart.
If you would like to receive a copy of the Annual
Report and accounts presented to the AGM, please send a cheque or postal
order for £2.00 payable to Depression Alliance, to: Depression
Alliance, 35 Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7JB.
Have you been prescribed an antidepressant but are worried about the
side effects? Is a member of your family taking medication for depression
and you want to know more? Depression Alliance has launched a new booklet
to help you understand more about antidepressant medicines. Called Depression
& Antidepressants, the guide provides practical, impartial information
about antidepressants currently available, and avoids the use of medical
language and technical jargon.
Indeed, one in five of us will suffer from depression at some point
during our lifetime and about one in 20 of us visit our GP because of
it. While milder forms of depression may be treated by self-help or
talking therapies such as counselling, people with moderate and severe
depression often benefit from treatment with one of the 30 antidepressants
now available in the UK.
Reviewed by antidepressant expert Stephen Bazire, Director of Pharmacy
Services, Norfolk Mental Health Care Trust, the booklet provides answers
to commonly asked patient questions such as: How well do antidepressants
work? Are some antidepressants better than others? And don’t antidepressants
have unpleasant side effects? The guide reviews the use of different
types of antidepressant – from older MAOIs and TCAs to commonly prescribed
SSRIs and newer types of drugs such as NaSSAs.
Commenting on the new booklet, Jim Thompson, Director,
Depression Alliance, said: "It’s important that people seek help
when they feel depressed because it is a treatable illness. People shouldn’t
feel ashamed or embarrassed. Antidepressants are one approach and it’s
important that people have as much information to hand about them as
possible, in an easy-to-understand and balanced format."
For a free copy of this leaflet, do contact us on 020 7633 0557 or email
Lundbeck Award For Best Practice
The Lundbeck Award for Best Practice was won by Northampton’s Leicester
Terrace Health Care Centre.
The judges said that Leicester Terrace Health Care Centre demonstrated
a strong commitment to Improving the management of depression, strong
teamwork and a great deal of hard work, determination and enthusiasm.
The Lundbeck Award attracted over 50 well-prepared applications for
the £10,000 winner prize. Four practice teams from around the
UK were short listed (the Somerset Gardens Family Health Centre in Tottenham,
the Hattersley Group practice in Hyde, the Leicester Terrace Health
Care Centre and the Groves Medical Centre in New Malden) and each practice
won £3,000 to spend on a mental health initiative. The UK winner
received a total of £10,000.
The Lundbeck ‘Living with Depression in Partnership Award’ was won by
Michael Boyd, from Craigavon & Banbridge Healthcare Trust
Michael Boyle, a community psychiatric nurse at Craigavon & Banbridge
Healthcare Trust, Northern Ireland won the £2,000 joint UK health
award with his patient for excellence in overcoming depression.
Depression Alliance and an independent panel of judges awarded the new
UK-wide ‘Lundbeck Living with Depression in Partnership Award’ to recognise
the ‘forgotten achievements’ of patients and their carers who have worked
together to overcome depression, a condition which affects nearly three
million people at any one time in the UK. The Lundbeck Living with Depression
with Partnership Award was a category within the Lundbeck Award for
Best Practice in Depression.
The Lundbeck Living with Depression in Partnership Award is the first
ever depression award to recognise the achievements of both patients
and carers together.