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Getting The Lowdown on how to get help

Getting The Lowdown on how to get help

A new interactive website aims to help young people with depression


Associate Minister of Health Jim Anderton today congratulated all those who have contributed to the creation of a new interactive website targeted at young people with depression.

"There has been a 20 percent reduction in youth suicide over the last five years, and there is not doubt that the Government's Suicide Prevention Strategy has contributed to that reduction. However, young people have higher rates of depression than the general population, and there are still over a hundred young New Zealanders dying from suicide each year," Jim Anderton said.

"The main barrier to getting help is the stigma of depression and mental illness, and the fact that a lot of young people feel that they should be able to manage on their own. This new website will make it easier for them to get help without worrying about being stigmatized for asking."

In Auckland, Jim Anderton officially launched The Lowdown, the website that has been developed and designed in consultation with young people, which includes online support services. The launch was attended by many of the musicians, sportspeople, and tv and radio celebrities, who feature on the website.

"We need tools that are designed to reach young people in a way they can relate to and can easily access. And the best way young people can find out about options to get help is through people they know, trust, admire and identify with," Jim Anderton said.

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"When people who are famous for their music or tv stardom talk about their own experiences, they help to de-stigmatise depression.

"I want to thank all the many popular heroes who have given their time and their names to create this resource. They will help to shatter myths about depression. They will help to break down social stigmas. They will encourage people who need help, to seek it."

The Lowdown website is part of the Ministry of Health's National Depression Initiative and Jim Anderton also paid tribute to the health professionals involved.

"I'm singling them out for a very good reason: Formal praise for our health system in this country is a rare thing.

"If you read the papers you would be justified in thinking our health system has gone to the dogs. I think most New Zealanders hear so much about the problems that they believe that our health system is threadbare, and struggling to provide adequate care to anyone. But overall, when you go into hospitals, the level of care and the sophistication of facilities are amazing.

"I think we should remind ourselves that the picture of our health system that the news media paints is largely false. It isn't falling apart at the seams. They are entitled to print what they like in their own papers. But we are entitled to acknowledge and congratulate good work where it is being done," Jim Anderton said.

"This depression campaign is an outstanding example of good work. It's an example of our health system at its best."

The site can be accessed at: www.thelowdown.co.nz

Celebrities contributing to The Lowdown

.Boh Runga
.P Money
.Dave Gibson - Elemeno P
.Brad Carter - Steriogram
.Gareth Stake & Angelo Munro - The Bleeders
.Jason Kerrison - Op Shop
.Julia Deans - Fur Patrol
.Tau Manukia - Spacifix
.Young Sid
.Awa and Junior - Nesian Mystik
.Paul Roper - Mint Chicks
.Joel Little - Goodnight Nurse
.Tim Arnold - Pluto
.Francis Kora - Kora
.Sam & Jesse Smith - Streetwise Scarlet
.Andrew Morrison - False Start
.Jon Austin - 48 May
.Victoria Girling-Butcher - Lucid 3
.Ben Read - 8 Foot Sativa
.Savage - Dkonz

TV & Radio:
.Aidee Walker - Outrageous Fortune Actress
.Antonia Prebble - Outrageous Fortune Actress
.Nisha Madden - Shortland Street
.Lee Donaghue - Shortland Street
.Kimberley Crossman - Shortland Street
.Jaquie Brown - TV Presenter
.Sonia Gray - TV Presenter
.Jane Yee - C4 Presenter
.Phil Bostwick - C4 Presenter
.Dayna Vawdrey - Studio 2 Presenter
.Vicky Lin - Studio 2 Presenter
.Tamati Coffey - Breakfast Presenter
.Bill & Ben - Pulp Sport Presenters
.Mike Puru - The Edge DJ

To'ofiga Fepulea'I - The Laughing Samoans Comedian

Ma'a Nonu - Ex All Black

Lisa Li - Miss Chinese NZ

Adrian Hailwood - Fashion Designer


The Lowdown is part of a national public health campaign created to reduce the impact of depression on the lives of New Zealanders, and a component of the Government's approach to suicide prevention.

The National Depression Initiative (NDI) was launched in October last year and has included the television commercials featuring John Kirwan talking about his personal experience of depression, and encouraging people to seek help. To date the response to the campaign has been astounding, with over 25,000 calls made to the Depression Helpline.

Research shows that even though 78 percent of young people recalled the ads, they are less likely to respond to these commercials by seeking help than adults. They tend not to visit GPs and are less likely to use helplines, preferring to get support from other sources such as their friends, family, the Internet, magazines and school counsellors.

The online platform of The Lowdown has been selected to be user-friendly for youth. The site was developed and designed in consultation with youth, and includes online support services.

Candace Bagnall, Ministry of Health NDI spokesperson, says "With the sobering statistics for youth depression and suicide it is crucial that we help young people to deal with and recover from depression. The Lowdown has been created for them to get help as quickly as possible. If they can develop their skills in coping with what life throws at them, they can have more control over their future. "

The Lowdown aims to help young people recognise and understand depression. The site encourages and enables them to seek appropriate help, or putting them in touch with trained professionals. The site promotes the use of self-help strategies, such as exercise, which can be helpful for dealing with mild and moderate depression.

Through encouraging early treatment of depression the NDI intends to reduce the impact depression has on the lives of young New Zealanders, now and throughout their adult lives.

Targeting the 13-24 year age group, The Lowdown website has been developed in consultation with young people for youth who are experiencing depression. It provides information that will allow users to identify depression in themselves and others, better understand it and get help for it through a variety of interactive online tools.

A welcoming community environment, the site features high profile Kiwi role-models, whom youth relate to, talking about experiences with depression that they, or friends and family, have had and how they managed this. The contributions from musicians, sports people, and TV and radio celebrities help remove the stigma around depression and encourage young people to get help.

The website features several innovative functions to help visitors navigate the site and, more importantly, help them feel they are not alone. They can choose from four online guides to show them around the environment. They can view video stories from role-models and their peers talking about their experiences of depression and offering words of encouragement and support.

Another key feature of the site is the online support facility where visitors can get expert advice from qualified counsellors. After sending a message by email or text to their chosen counsellor, they will receive a personalised response as quickly as possible, and within 24 hours. Users can choose to keep their communication private or allow it to be shared for other people to be to see.

The website also has a forum where visitors can join The Lowdown community and talk to each other about how they are feeling. People can share their experiences and offer support to their peers. To ensure that users are kept safe, the forum will be monitored by an online moderator.

It is important for people who are experiencing depression to get help as early as possible, it is also important for them to find a treatment that works for them. To assist this process a host of useful information and advice is available, with fact sheets, Frequently Asked Questions, a self assessment questionnaire and details of other help services.



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