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Campaign to beat depression launched

10th October 2006

Multi-million dollar campaign to beat depression launched

A $6.4 million campaign to reduce the impact of depression has been launched today by the Associate Minister of Health, Jim Anderton.

The National Depression Initiative is a national three year project to raise awareness of depression, to aid early recognition, appropriate treatment and recovery and will see former All Black John Kirwan front a series of high profile television advertisements.

“I secured the funding for this important initiative as part of a Progressive Party Budget bid and I am very pleased to be launching it today. The quality of the advertisements is impressive and I would like to thank John Kirwan for his time and commitment to them,” Associate Minister of Health Jim Anderton said

"We know that up to 90% of suicides are caused by depression and that each year 500 New Zealanders are dying by suicide. Depression is a significant concern for this Labour-Progressive Government and if we can raise awareness and reduce the impact that depression has on peoples' lives, hopefully we can reduce the number of lives being lost to suicide every year.

Jim Anderton says, "The World Health Organisation has predicted that by the year 2020, depression will be second only to cardiovascular disease, in contributing to the global burden of disease. We must tackle this problem head on and the National Depression Initiative will go a long way to achieving this objective.

"We are not talking about people feeling down or moody, we know everyone feels like that at some time in their lives, but some people continue to feel like this for long periods of time. We don't want New Zealanders to suffer from depression unnecessarily. People will recover much sooner if they seek treatment and for most people, there is a complete recovery.

Mr Anderton says depression not only affects the quality of peoples' lives but it also affects the quality of life for family and friends as well. Because of this we want the National Depression Initiative to reach New Zealanders who may be depressed or know someone who is and highlight the fact that there is a way through depression and there is hope.

The National Depression Initiative campaign will be supporting a range of new and existing primary mental health and mental health promotion services at a community level.

A website has also been developed to provide information about depression and how to seek help - www.depression.org.nz and a Freephone information and support line is available on 0800 111 757.

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For background on the National Depression Initiative: http://www.progressive.org.nz/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1780

www.beehive.govt.nz/anderton www.progressiveparty.org.nz

Launch of National Depression Initiative
10 October 2006

Question and Answer Fact Sheet

1. Why is the Government spending $6.4 million on this initiative?

Depression has been found to be a factor in up to 90% of suicides. The funding for the National Depression Initiative is coming from the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy budget, because if we reduce the number of people who experience severe depression, we may prevent some of the 500 deaths by suicide which occur every year in this country. We can also significantly improve the quality of life for the many thousands of New Zealanders who experience mild to moderate depression, not to mention the well-being of their families.

2. Will raising the awareness of depression just increase demand for services?

The Ministry of Health is aware of this concern. However, the experience of other countries, which have run similar campaigns has been that demand on health services has not significantly increased. The campaign aims to inform people about how to respond to and manage depression, and for mild to moderate depression, there are effective self help strategies such as physical exercise. However new primary mental health approaches to responding to and managing depression are currently being trialled by a number of Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) and these appear to be very effective. Other work is also under way to ensure that primary care services are able to respond appropriately, including a resource on depression for general practice that has been developed by the New Zealand Guidelines Group, which is also reviewing depression guidelines for primary care.

3. How can I tell if my friend or family member is depressed?

Common signs of depression include a persistent low mood, sadness or emotional 'numbness', loss of pleasure in everyday activities, irritability or anxiety, poor concentration, feeling guilty or crying for no apparent reason, changes in eating or sleeping patterns and feelings of hopelessness or thoughts of death. If these symptoms carry on for a month or longer, your friend or family member will need support to get help. People with depression often do not seek help for themselves, sometimes because they believe there is nothing that can be done.

4. What can I do if I know I'm showing signs of depression?

Talk to a trusted friend or family member about how you are feeling, or talk to your doctor or health care professional. Learn about depression to make sense of how you are feeling by visiting the depression website or contact a support group, and if you have thoughts of harming yourself or others, talk to someone you can trust who you can stay with until you feel safer or call a crisis phone line such as Lifeline 0800 543 354, or Youthline 0800 376 633.

5. If my friend or family member is depressed, how can I help them?

Learn about depression and what you can do to help recovery, help the person to recognise stress and find ways of coping, spend time with them, encourage them to keep up with their treatment and to avoid excess alcohol and drugs and take any thoughts of suicide seriously. Phone the depression help line on 0800 111 757 or visit the depression website to find out more about your options.

6. Can you be cured from depression or will it last a lifetime?

With treatment and support, most people will completely recover from depression and carry on with their lives. Without treatment depression can last up to six months or longer. Different types of depression require different types of treatment and there are effective self-help strategies, drug and psychological treatments available. Serious depression is best treated by a combination of anti-depressants and psychological therapies (including cognitive behavioural therapy).

7. Where can I go for more information about depression?

A website www.depression.org.nz has been developed to support the National Depression Initiative campaign. You local doctor or Primary Health Organisation will also be able to help.

ENDS

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