This is our first ever blog post! This blog is hopefully going to be an informative and useful resource for anyone experiencing depression, including bipolar disorder. We also want friends, family and carers to use it to learn more about the illness that affects their loved ones. Ideally, we will also have guest bloggers – with anyone from fitness enthusiasts who use exercise as part of their self care routine to people blogging about their experiences of depression. One of our aims is to reduce the stigma around depression by getting people to talk about it. We know that this can be very difficult but we want people to be open and honest.
We welcome all feedback, especially things that people have found helpful - so if there is anything you would like to ask or add, or you’d like to have a go at blogging, email suggestions to Lorraine@aware-ni.org.
Why we’re here
Aware Defeat Depression was established in 1996. We currently have offices in Belfast and L’derry. We are the only charity in Northern Ireland who works exclusively with people who may experience depression at some time in their lives – around 1 in 4 of the population of NI.
According to the World Health Organisation, depression is one of the most debilitating illnesses. It is predicted by 2020 that that it will be second only to coronary heart disease as a cause of disability in the developed world. Research indicates that levels in Northern Ireland are much higher than UK mainland mainly due to high levels of social deprivation and the legacy of the ‘troubles’. Many people say they feel trapped, alone and worried about the consequences of admitting that they have a mental health problem.
It is important to remember, however, that it is just like any other illness. It is not a sign of weakness and like most illnesses the sooner you seek help the better. This normally means going to your GP – he or she will be able to make a diagnosis and agree a treatment plan with you. This may include medication, a talking therapy (such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and some self-help suggestions for you to try. The ‘treatment’ depends on your individual circumstances. It is important to remember that not everyone with depression will be offered medication and many people recover over a period of time through self-help.
As an organisation we firmly believe in this self help approach. Our self-help support groups provide a free, confidential and safe place to discuss your illness with people who have or have had similar experiences. Many people who have attended our groups have told us that they have benefited greatly from the support and information that they have received. A full list of support groups is available here - Support Groups. If you feel that you want to talk to someone about how you feel or just want some information about our services you can call our telephone helpline on 08451 20 29 61, Monday to Friday 9am -1pm. Outside of these hours calls are referred to Lifeline- telephone number 0800 808 8000.
We also have a range of education programmes. Our Living Life to The Full programme is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - it can help you change your thinking and behaviour to break out of the vicious cycle of depression. We offer this course, in various locations (depending on funding) If you’d like your name to be put on the waiting list, download an application form here and return it to either Carole or Aisling.
Our Mental Health First Aid course provides skills and knowledge which can enable participants to provide initial help to someone experiencing a mental health problem/illness or who is in emotional distress. Our Mood Matters programmes are mainly delivered to young people in second-level schools and other appropriate settings. In recent years we have developed programmes for other target groups i.e. adults, older people and expectant mothers. For more information on any of our training courses, click here http://www.aware-ni.org.uk/training.aspx.
If you would like any more information, including fact sheets or booklets, please contact us through the website.
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