Fundraising Volunteer - here's how!
Aware Defeat Depression is currently seeking Fundraising Volunteers to help raise funds to support our work. All you need to do is choose something to do from our calendar of fundraising events or you can organise your own event.
- As a fundraising volunteer you are vitally important to Aware Defeat Depression—without your support we could not deliver our services across NI
- The money raised by you will allow us to continue to help people with depression recover from the illness.
- It also helps us to remove the stigma associated with depression by encouraging people to talk about their mental health
- Our services include over 20 support groups that meet regularly across Northern Ireland and a telephone helpline service
- We also provide a range of education programmes which provide people with the tools to build their personal resilience against poor mental health
There are no qualifications needed to be a fundraising volunteer for Aware. Simply choose something to do from our calendar of fundraising events or you can organise your own event like a coffee morning, quiz night or fashion show.
That’s really up to you and what you feel you can give
- After taking part in your first fundraising activity for the Charity you may want to consider joining or forming your own fundraising group to organise bigger events in your local area. We will support you to do this.
- Volunteering helps you to gain experience that may prove useful in your career
- It allows you meet new people
- You will definitely learn some new skills
- You will make a difference to the lives of people with depression
When you contact Kieran he will:
- Discuss what you want to do for us and what we will do for you
- Provide you with our fundraising guide
- Talk about our calendar of events
- Provide you with a fudnraising pack if necessary
- Talk about the support we will give you
- You will always be supported in your fundraising by Kieran.
For more information and to make an application:
- Please contact Kieran by email: email@example.com or phone: 02890357820
Suffering from depression? Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Help is available
Suffering from depression? Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
Help is available.
With an increase of 3.1% of
adults diagnosed with depression in the last five years, it is important that
people are able to recognise signs of depression and know where to go for help
Aware Defeat Depression are the only charity in Northern Ireland
working exclusively for people with depression and they are encouraging people
to talk about the illness.
Siobhan Doherty, Chief
Executive of Aware Defeat Depression has said,
"Depression is an illness that
can affect anyone at any stage in their lives. It can affect your next door
neighbour, a relative or friend, the actor you watch on TV or the singer you
listen to everyday. The most important thing to remember about this illness is
that it can be treated and you can recover from it.
"We were delighted that Gary
Lightbody from well-known band Snow Patrol, was willing to help us out with our
campaign to encourage people to talk about the depression they are
experiencing. Gary has previously suffered from depression himself and would
therefore understand what it’s like for a person experiencing depression.
"Northern Ireland currently has
the highest percentage of people with depression in the UK and has seen a 3.1%
increase in the last five years.
"During Depression Awareness Week
on 15 to 21 April 2013, Aware Defeat Depression are reaching out to those
people suffering in silence to speak to someone. Our helpline is available to
call on 08451 20 29 61 or visit the website at www.aware-ni.org.
"Aware Defeat Depression
facilitates twenty support groups in rural and urban areas throughout Northern
Ireland helping people with mild to moderate depression.
"Aware Defeat Depression also
offer programmes including Living Life to the Full and Mood Matters. These
programmes help people develop an understanding
of mental health with a particular focus on depression as the most common of
mental health illnesses. Participants are provided with a toolkit that will
give them the skills to build their personal resilience to the illness, or if
they have depression, to help them manage their illness and assist in their
"For more information on
depression, or to find out about any of the above programmes, please call or
email Aware Defeat Depression today.”
Helpline: 08451 20 29 61
Crisis support over Easter
24/7 phone support for those in crisis
Open as usual over Easter
0808 808 8000
Belfast Branch Samaritans
Phone, text and email support available 24/7 plus drop
in service from 9am to 10pm every day
Open as usual over Easter
Avenue, Belfast, BT9
9066 4422Text Service 07725 90 90 90
www.samaritansbelfast.org Email service firstname.lastname@example.org
and Support Group
support services available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
Closed Monday 1 April
209 Falls Road, Belfast,
028 9023 9967
support services available Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm
Closed on Monday 1 April and Tuesday 2 April
187 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast,
028 9075 5070
support services available Monday to Saturday 9.00am to 5.00pm
Except for Monday 1 April and Tuesday 2 April when opening hours
are 10.00am to 2.00pm
Road, Belfast, BT13 2BH
Crisis support services available Monday to
Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm
Closed from 12pm on Friday 29
March and all day on Monday 1 April and Tuesday 2 April
281 Antrim Road, Belfast, BT15 2HE
028 9080 5850
Aware Defeat Depression concerned as depression amongst adults in Northern Ireland is on the increase
Chief Executive of Aware Defeat Depression, Siobhan Doherty, has said she is
very concerned at the increase of adults diagnosed with depression in Northern
Ireland following statistics released by Health Minister, Edwin Poots.
a question asked to the Health Minister by Sue Ramsey MLA, it was revealed that
the amount of adults diagnosed with depression in Northern Ireland has
increased by a staggering 3.1% in five years from 2007 to 2012.
on the latest statistics, Siobhan Doherty has said,
fact that depression is increasing rather than decreasing sends out a very
clear message that people suffering from this illness need help sooner rather
Defeat Depression recognises the stigma attached to mental health issues, in
particular depression. If someone is suffering from depression, they should
feel comfortable enough to talk about it to family and friends in order to
ensure they receive the correct help and guidance.
someone you know is suffering from depression talk to them. Don’t let
depression be the elephant in the room. Alternatively, we offer a helpline
service for anyone affected by
depression, those who experience depression or the family and friends of those
who experience depression. To talk to
someone or find out more information about depression, please call the helpline
today on 08451 20 29 61.”
World Mental Health Day 2012
We co-hosted two events for World Mental Health Day in 2012; the focus of this year was depression. We uploaded some pictures from a Health in Mind event in Finaghy Library to our image gallery (that you can find at the very bottom of this page).
We also participated in an event in the Riddell Hall at Queen's University Belfast where we live tweeted the event. From personal stories, drama, mime and monologue, the event was well received by everyone.
Below you'll see the Tweets we sent from our account throughout the event, giving you an idea of what it was like! You'll also maybe be interested to see how Twitter works and why we're so keen on using it for communications!
We're at the World Mental Health Day event to break the stigma
surrounding depression and mental health. Follow the feed using#WMHD2012
We are here, with Cause, AMH, Mindwise, Royal college of
(Sorry no one is being tagged in tweets - my app won't pre-load
Just waiting to get underway.#WMHD2012
Stigma: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular
circumstance, quality or person.#WMHD2012
Mr Edwin Poots and CEO's from the main mental health charities
in NI are here#WMHD2012
1 out of every 4 people will experience a mental illness that
would benefit from treatment.#WMHD2012
Challenging MH stigma is something all charities involved in#WMHD2012are dedicated to.
Edwin Poots; prevalence of depression is astounding.#WMHD2012
One third of consultations with GP's are related to mental
Mental ill health costs NI economy around 4 billion. Stigma
remains a powerful, negative force.#WMHD2012
Attitudes to depression& stigma in Scotland are much more
favorable than NI yet most of us will be affected by mental ill health#WMHD2012
Attitudes to depression& stigma in Scotland are much more
favorable than NI yet most of us will be affected by mental ill health#WMHD2012
The media plays an important role in influencing attitudes.
Balanced, positive reporting helps people understand mental health#WMHD2012
Mental illness hasn't received the same sensitive treatment as
other illness in the media.#WMHD2012
More sensitive reporting on suicide is required by the media.#WMHD2012
Attention needs to be given to online sources (eg twitter). The
anonyminity allows more trolling and negative comments#WMHD2012
Our Andrea, education and training manager at Aware has just
finished telling the room how stigma almost drove her to suicide#WMHD2012
Now some drama!#WMHD2012pic.twitter.com/dIhZoqKU
Very funny sketch involving childbirth! Not what I expected!#WMHD2012
People with an illness can, and do have lives.#WMHD2012
Baby Sheldon will grow up with 2 loving parents, one who happens
to have a mental illness. Won't make him less of a dad.#WMHD2012
Now for a short film.#WMHD2012
@mcgrathaineit could indeed be! So many people go
undiagnosed because of the stigma.
If we can create something from trauma it might be therapeutic.#WMHD2012
By talking and not being ashamed, talking allows us to regain
control and be accepted.#WMHD2012
Second Chance for Change was a very powerful account of a
traumatic experience and the recovery from it.#WMHD2012
Anne Donnelly is going to perform her monologue now.#WMHD2012
Orville Wright experienced depression and it didn't stop him
taking the first flight but can someone with depression get travel insurance?
Thomas Eagleton, president candidate running against Nixon was
asked to resign after someone found out he had depression#WMHD2012
Teddy Roosevelt also had depression, Lincoln had schizophrenia.#WMHD2012
Don't forget about Diana, princess of Wales, Elizabeth 1st and
Churchill who all experienced mental ill health#WMHD2012
Harrison Ford, Anthony Hopkins and Johnny Depp don't talk about
their mental health.#WMHD2012
One guy (Elvis) gets to wear a spangly cape; someone else gets a
Anne's monologue is fascinating! Mental ill health doesn't have
to stop you doing what you need to do!#WMHD2012
If people with power, money, adulation find it hard: how does
joe public cope? Is it ok to treat them like dirt because they aren't famous?
We now have a mime, so no tweets! ;)#WMHD2012
Time for the q+a session#WMHD2012
Psychiatric registrar talking about putting service users at the
Users have more choice and their views are influencing services.
Also a shift from long hospital stays.#WMH2012
The battle against stigma is ongoing and the media don't help.#WMHD2012
Media coverage around suicide needs to be sympathetic and the
media can act as a catalyst.#WMHD2012
Stigma stops people seeking help from people, including their
The media influences all of us, so it should focus on the root
of the problem. We need the media in the battle against stigma#WMHD2012
Mary Kelly from Good Morning Ulster is now on stage.#WMHD2012
Media coverage is often negative: focusing on gaps in service
and crimes committed.#WMHD2012
Too much emphasis on 'mad and bad'. The media don't report
positive stories of recovery.#WMHD2012
The media is print, broadcast and social.#WMHD2012
Sometimes celebrity culture can help to break the stigma.#WMHD2012
We've seen a change in terms; no use of nutter, psycho etc. MH
professionals need to avoid jargon and humanise problems.#WMHD2012
MH research doesn't generate media research, unlike cancer or
The media can make and break a career, and at Leveson, we see
how it can affect parliament.#WMHD2012
The media's thirst for a bandwagon or campaign is to sell
We welcome the media role in informing and lobbying, but we
can't allow important issues to be overlooked.#WMHD2012
We will not tolerate discrimination against mental health any
more than racism, sexism or any other discrimination.#WMHD2012
Success stories are seldom in the media.#WMHD2012
The attitude of the public towards mental health is the biggest
Vulnerable members are exploited by the media for
With great power comes great responsibility. Its in our power to
Do we understand the media?#WMHD2012
To refer to 'the media' is too large- its like saying 'the
Local media is very different to national/international groups.#WMHD2012
The media have mental health problems and they interact with
people with mental health problems.#WMHD2012
Poots: finds it hard that stigma has endured despite so many of
us experiencing mental ill health#WMHD2012
Is knowledge going to stop discrimination?#WMHD2012
The media have been following guidelines about reporting of
Could we stigmatise the media?#WMHD2012
The media are a key source of info, signposting and hope. How
can orgs work better with the media?#WMHD2012
Understand that the media thinks in terms of 'stories'. Attract
the relevant segment of the media and think like a journo.#WMHD2012
Voluntary sector and media can have strong links to encourage
reporting that MH professionals can't.#WMHD2012
Can the preconceived ideas of journalists impact the outcome of
good news stories from voluntary sources?#WMHD2012
From a PR, I find this debate fascinating. Sorry I can't tweet
There is less 'journalism' than 20 years ago and less interest
in a good news story.#WMHD2012
stories in a more sensationalist manner?#WMHD2012
make some colleagues jealous because of the interaction with MLA's etc!#WMHD2012
Any programme with open access to listeners can be powerful.@StephenNolan#WMHD2012
Do you think we'll get to the stage where Mental ill health is
viewed as the same as a broken leg?#WMHD2012
Malachy has just used the word 'mad'. Is it ok when he's using
his own mental health?#WMHD2012
@hygge_belfastif I can, I will! No recording
facilities that I'm aware of!
It'll be a very long time before mental health will be viewed in
the same way as other chronic illnesses.#WMHD2012
@basilmccreahas stayed throughout the event,
Professional politicians should be able to handle Nolan.@basilmccrea@StephenNolan#WMHD2012
There is nothing more powerful than someone telling their story.#WMHD2012
Is society brave enough to face the reality of depression,
suicide and other mental health?#WMHD2012
If you're consistent and prepared the media will use your story.#WMHD2012
Carers can be forgotten- they also experience stigma and the bad
side of the services.#WMHD2012
Services recognise they have some way to go but need leadership
from media, service users and charities.#WMHD2012
Regional media aren't 'as bad' as some of the more
People with MH problems should feel empowered.#WMHD2012
Communicating your message and understanding the media is vital.
Think about the bigger picture.#WMHD2012
We have an individual responsibilty to fight stigma, at home,
work, carers, professionals, in hospitals; everywhere.#WMHD2012
@hygge_belfasttbf, I kept up rightly on the tweets!
If I've missed something it wasn't a major point!
@ianpricedesignyup- absolutely. Think someone did end
up saying that!
you've enjoyed! It was a brill event!
@mcgrathaine@basilmccrea@EdwinPoots1#WMHD2012in fairness, he's had a busy day!
@hygge_belfastI'll see if I can get info about the
film. Its very graphic but difficult not to look at.
Have your Say: What is your experience of mental health treatment and care?
Mental health conditions are among the most common illnesses in the UK affecting around one in five with Northern Ireland having the highest incidences in the UK.
A landmark project has been launched by GAIN bringing together health and social care professionals, users of services, carers and families to help improve “the experience of users and carers” as outlined in the principles, standards and recommendations of the Bamford Review of Mental Health & Learning Disability in Northern Ireland (2005) and through standards 10-26 of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Service Framework. It will also help inform service planning, practice development and staff training
GAIN, the Public Health Agency and the Health & Social Care Board are leading this pioneering piece of work. For the first time the project will collect details of people’s journey in ‘story’ form. This will show how mental health treatment and care services are perceived by service users and carers.
The survey is online using the web address http://eu.sensemaker-suite.com/gain/index.html for anyone to access and tell their ‘story/experience’. Help is available to those who wish to participate but do not want to do this electronically by contacting the GAIN Office. 028 90 520629
Stories about experiences will be collected from 01 August to 31 October 2012.
Information is also available on the GAIN website (http://www.gain-ni.org/havingyoursay.asp) including a poster and survey form. Please feel free to print these off if you wish.
If you have any other queries please don’t hesitate to contact the GAIN office.
I also attach the PDF version which can be printed out and completed and then returned to the GAIN office. Hard copies can also be requested along with SAEs from GAIN ( see contact details below)
Anne McMurray Development Ltd
401 City East
68-72 Newtownards Road
t 0044 2890 941616
m +4477 4050 9200
e : email@example.com
Aware receives Investing in Volunteers Award!
Belfast’s City Hall resounded to applause as organisations that have recently won the prestigious Investing in Volunteers Award, were given their plaques and trophies at an event hosted by Volunteer Now. Our brand new CEO, Siobhan Doherty joined Andy at City Hall to receive the award.
Chief Executive of Aware, Siobhan Doherty said “Volunteers are vital to our charity as without them we could not possibly reach out to as many people with depression in our society, or help them to get well again.” Siobhan went on to say, “That is why I am so pleased to have picked up this prestigious award on behalf of Aware Defeat Depression, along with our Support Services Manager, Andy Sims. Andy works hard to promote volunteering within the Charity and he and his team support our existing volunteers to ensure that they are benefitting from being a volunteer, while at the same time bringing huge benefits to the work that we do in our support groups and other areas of our work.”
Sandra Adair, Director of Policy and Capacity Building, Volunteer Now, said she was "delighted to congratulate Aware Defeat Depression on achieving the Investing in Volunteers Award. Volunteers are clearly essential to how Aware carries out its work and by achieving this Award they have demonstrated how much they value their contribution".
Siobhan started work at Aware in early November and we'll be posting more information about her really soon! If you would like to see more pictures of the Aware team and our award, as well as a video of Andy thanking all our volunteers, visit our Facebook page -
Caption for photo: L-R, Will Haire, Permanent Secretary, DSD, Siobhan Doherty, CEO Aware Defeat Depression, Andy Sims, Support Services Manager, Aware Defeat Depression and Martin Busch, Volunteer Now Trustee
Are you interested in learing more about self help or garden therapy?
We've introduced a new section to the 'Self Help' section of our website to encourage people to help themselves to recover from depression. The first blog we've included demonstrates the merit of garden therapy. If you would like your blog to be included, just let us know! Not all blogs will be able to be put on, and Aware Defeat Depression is not responsible for the content on external websites. All opinions belong to the author. We also remind everyone that everyone's treatment is different and before making any changes to your treatment you should consult your GP.
Samaritans and Facebook join forces to encourage support for friends who may be struggling to cope.
Samaritans has teamed up with Facebook to create a pioneering new scheme allowing the 30 million people on Facebook in the UK to get help for a friend they believe is struggling to cope or feeling suicidal.
People concerned about a friend will be able to tell Samaritans via Facebook’s Help Centre (
www.facebook.com/help), where they can report specific content such as status updates or wall posts. Facebook will then put Samaritans in touch with the distressed friend to offer their expert support. More information is available on the 'Notes' section of Samaritans Facebook Page - Samaritans Notes.
This initiative runs in tandem with an awareness campaign through Samaritans’ Facebook Page, giving advice on supporting vulnerable friends such as how to spot the signs of distress and how to start a difficult conversation. Also on the Page will be messages from high profile celebrities backing the campaign.
Catherine Johnstone, Chief Executive of Samaritans, said: “Through the popularity of Facebook, we are harnessing the power of friendship so people can get help. As a friend you are better placed to know whether someone close to you is struggling to cope or even feeling suicidal.
“We want to remind people that if a friend says that life isn’t worth living, they should always be taken seriously. Facebook is a part of daily life for so many of us and we must make sure that people online have support when they need it.”
Facebook’s Director of Policy for Europe, Richard Allan said: “We're pleased to welcome the expertise of a great partner in Samaritans. They will help to make our robust reporting system even more effective, as friends are encouraged to look out for one another on Facebook as they do in the real world. This supplements the number of ways to get help already available on Facebook, from our Help Centre to the reporting tools we offer.”
Samaritans’ volunteers have welcomed the initiative. Sandra Forrester, director of Samaritans’ Northampton branch and part of the team responding to the Facebook referrals, said: “It is a brilliant idea that we team up with Facebook as it is another way for vulnerable people to know that we are here to support them, and that they aren’t alone.”
Samaritans is running a Facebook advertising campaign to encourage people to “Like” their fan Page at
www.facebook.com/samaritanscharity where they can find updates on the charity’s work and how to become a supporter.
Think Parent, Think Child, Think Family Survey.
Mental Health and Children's Services - Tell us what matters to you!
The Department of Health, Social Services and
Public Safety has funded a Mental Health and Children’s Services ‘Think Child.
Think Parent, Think Family’ Project.
A survey has been developed by service users and staff to gather experiences of, and views on, mental health and children’s services – including drug and alcohol misuse issues – as part of the Think Child, Think Parent, Think Family project.
The aim of the survey is to improve services for parents with mental health issues as well as for their children, carers and families.
We want to hear from you if you are:
• a service user
• a child with a parent who has a mental health issue
• a carer or friend of someone with a mental health issue
• a child with a parent who has an alcohol or drug issue
• a carer or friend of someone with an alcohol or drug issue
• a staff member who works in statutory or voluntary services
Your feedback is ver
y important and will ensure the improvements we make to services are the ones that matter most. Health and Social Care Trusts and voluntary organisations will use the information collected to make changes and implement a family-orientated approach to assessment and care. Please note that the information collected in this survey is confidential, anonymous and not traceable.
To complete the survey go to:
If you would like a paper copy of the survey posted to you to
complete please phone 028 9055 3958.
NI second-worst in mental health study
Northern Ireland's rates of mental health disorders are among the highest in 17 regions and countries, a new study shows.
A major research initiative launched at the University of Ulster's Magee campus highlights the gravity of the problem in the region, which came second only to America.
The study was carried out by the newly opened Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing and involved various countries around the world including China, South Africa and Lebanon.
Depression is already recognised as the most common reason for people to visit their GPs in Northern Ireland, however, the report highlights a wide disparity in how long it takes people to seek professional help.
One of its main findings is that in any one year around one in four people in Northern Ireland present symptoms that could be related to one or more mental health conditions.
Professor Brendan Bunting, Centre Director, warned that people with anxiety issues often suffer in silence too long, with some delaying seeking help by more than 20 years.
Prof Bunting said: "The findings reveal the extent of the suffering caused by mental health problems in our population and highlight the importance of finding ways in which we can enhance the mental resources within our society.
"The results also indicated that while access to services was high, nevertheless only 40% of those with a disorder sought treatment in any given year.
"People with depression were among the most likely to seek treatment early, waiting on average a year, although over 25% of individuals in this category waited 10 years or more before seeking treatment.
"However, those with anxiety disorders waited on average over 20 years before asking for help. Individuals with substance disorders waited on average 15 years."
The international comparative survey is part of the World Mental Health Initiative and involved more than 4,300 members of the public in Northern Ireland.
Over the years, researchers at University of Ulster have built up solid reputation internationally regarding their research in the area of mental health.
Among their partners is the much acclaimed Harvard Institute of Mental Health.
The Centre, which was officially launched on Wednesday by Professor Norman Black, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) at University of Ulster, is expected to add to the health-skills base in the North West.
© UTV News
(http://www.u.tv/News/NI-second-worst-in-mental-health-study/fb889f73-ab7c-469b-8308-0160bed43cdf Last accessed 11/02/11)
Decreased Perception of Color in Depression
Is it true that the world looks gray when you are depressed?
Science may back up the sense that colors just don’t seem as bright during a major depression.
Recent research published by Dr. Emanuel Bubl of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Albert-Ludwigs-University of Frieburg in Germany, and his colleagues, showed that the retinas of depressed patients were less sensitive to contrast.
Art, literature, and popular culture, today, and throughout history, make reference to depression as “blackness” or “gray,” or tell people who are sad to “brighten up.” Previous research has demonstrated that depressed patients themselves perceive that their vision is not as acute as when they were not depressed, and that they see less visual contrast.
Bubl and his team used a technique called a pattern electroretinogram (PERG) to objectively measure the participant’s ability to perceive contrast. A PERG is a device which measures the tiny amount of electrical change in the eye made when the retina is stimulated by looking at an object with contrast, like a checkerboard. It produces a tracing, much like the heart muscle makes an ECG tracing.
80 patients were enrolled in the study, 20 patients with untreated depression, 20 patients with depression on medication, and 40 patients with no mental health issues. All patients had visual PERGs done.
Bubl found a strong and significant association between the severity of the depression and a decreased response in the PERG, suggesting that the more depressed the patient was, the less their retinas responded to the contrast pattern.
Bubl’s findings are intriguing in that they suggest a scientific basis to a cultural association between depression and a lack of color.
More importantly, however, these finding have potential clinical implications. The diagnosis of depression is based on a constellation of symptoms, both psychological and physical. Most of the psychological symptoms are subjective, and many of the physical symptoms are non-specific, such as weight changes, or sleep changes. Alterations in PERG response could potentially be an independent, objective, confirmatory, and possibly even specific, diagnostic criterion for depression. An objective criterion for depression would be highly useful for researchers, patients, clinicians, and others.
Speculation as to why the PERG response is diminished in depressed patients might lead to further interesting research into the causes of depression and possibly into novel therapies.
According to Bubl, “Because PERG recording does not depend on subjective ratings, this marker may be an objective correlate of depression in human beings. If replicated, PERG may be helpful in further animal and human research in depression.”
Bubl’s research is published in the July 15th edition of the journal Biological Psychiatry.
Source: Biological Psychiatry
New study shows people with mental health problems receive inadequate medical care
New research led by the University of Leicester and published this week in the British Journal of Psychiatry reveals that people with mental health problems are receiving inferior care for their medical needs.
The study by a team of researchers led by Dr Alex Mitchell from the University of Leicester Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, warns that medical care delivered across most branches of medicine to those with a mental health or substance abuse diagnosis is of inferior quality to the usual standard of care. This important systematic review showed widespread inequalities of care in those with mental health problems.
Dr Mitchell said: "We wished to investigate whether the quality of medical care received by people with mental health conditions, including substance misuse, differs from the care received by people who have no comparable mental disorder.
"We found that despite similar or actually more frequent medical contacts, there are often disparities in the physical healthcare delivered to those with psychiatric illness with frankly poorer care offered to (or accepted by) those with pre-existing mental health problems."
The research was based on analysing 31 valid studies (see notes to editors). Dr Mitchell said: "I work in liaison psychiatry and regularly see people who have received what they report as poor treatment by virtue of their mental illness. Often there is a temptation for clinicians to attribute any physical symptom to the psychiatric diagnosis without necessarily assessing the person thoroughly."
"Perhaps most surprising, our study found that inferior quality medical care did not depend on the presence of current psychiatric symptoms but rather was delivered to anyone with a previous or current mental health diagnosis."
"If poor quality of care is associated with a mental health diagnosis it could be because poor care is delivered by medical staff or perhaps that reduced care is taken up by those patients themselves. In fact we found in general more care was taken up (the quantity was the same or higher) but its nature was insufficient (poor quality)."
Dr Mitchell, who is also part of the Department of Liaison Psychiatry, Leicester General Hospital, carried out the study with Darren Malone of Lakes District Health Board, New Zealand, and Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester and Caroline Carney Doebbeling, of the Department of Internal Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis.
Dr Mitchell said that the research raised important questions: "We need to understand if doctors working in medical specialties treat those with mental health problems differently just because of their mental health labels. We also need to know more about whether poor quality of care effects outcomes such as mortality. Mortality has been linked with several mental health problems and inferior care could be one explanation for this.
"The key message of the research is that people with mental health diagnoses should receive comprehensive medical care of at least equal quality to the current standard. Indeed there is a case for believing that those with previous mental health problems might be at high risk of medical complications such as diabetes, cardiovascular and lipid disorders therefore medical care might be appropriately enhanced in this group."
There is a campaign from the Royal college of Psychiatrists linked with this paper
The paper is available at: http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/194/6/491
Notes to editors:
We wished to investigate whether the quality of medical care received by people with mental health conditions, including substance misuse, differs from the care received by people who have no comparable mental disorder. We identified 31 valid studies, 27 examined receipt of medical care in those with and without mental illness and 10 examined medical care in those with and without substance use disorder (or dual diagnosis). Nineteen of 27 and 10 of 10, respectively, suggested inferior quality of care in at least one domain. Twelve studies found no appreciable differences in care or failed to detect a difference in at least one key area, several studies showed an increase in healthcare utilisation but without any increase in quality and only three studies found superior care for individuals with mental illness in specific subdomains. Thus despite similar or actually more frequent medical contacts, there are often disparities in the physical healthcare delivered to those with psychiatric illness with frankly poorer care offered to (or accepted by) those with pre-existing mental health problems.
Cognitive behavioral intervention helps prevent depression among at-risk teens
Adolescent-onset depression is strongly associated with chronic and recurrent depression in adulthood, and despite substantial progress in treatments, only about 25 percent of depressed youth receive treatment and at least 20 percent develop recurrent, persistent, and chronic depression that is very difficult to treat, according to background information in the article. "The serious developmental consequences of adolescent depression and the associated treatment challenges once it has developed underscore the need for programs aimed at prevention," the authors write. They add that one of the most potent risk factors for the development of depression in youth is a parent who experiences depression, which increases the risk for adolescent depression by 2- to 3-fold. Although some smaller trials have found that depression risk can be reduced in this population, these results have yet to be replicated in larger studies.
Dr. Garber and colleagues examined the effectiveness of a cognitive behavioral (CB) program for preventing depression in at-risk adolescents. This multicenter trial included 316 adolescent (age, 13-17 years) offspring of parents with current or prior depressive disorders. Adolescents had a past history of depression, current elevated but subdiagnostic depressive symptoms, or both. Assessments were conducted at the beginning of the study, after the 8-week intervention and after a 6-month continuation phase, with symptoms and disorders being measured with questionnaires and clinical interviews, respectively.
Adolescents were randomly assigned to the CB prevention program (n = 159) or to usual care (n = 157). The intervention consisted of eight weekly 90-minute group sessions (followed by six monthly continuation sessions), led by a therapist, in which adolescents were taught problem-solving skills and cognitive restructuring techniques to identify and challenge unrealistic and overly negative thoughts.
The researchers found that the rate for new depressive episodes was lower for those in the CB prevention program than for those in usual care through the postcontinuation follow-up (21.4 percent vs. 32.7 percent). Self-reported change in the symptoms of depression declined at a significantly greater rate for youth in the CB prevention program than for those in usual care.
Having a parent with depression at the beginning of the study significantly moderated the effect of the CB prevention program, with analyses indicating that the CB program was significantly better than usual care in preventing depressive episodes if a parent did not have a current depressive episode (11.7 percent vs. 40.5 percent). When parents were actively depressed at the start of the study, rates of youth depression did not differ significantly between the CB program and usual care (31.2 percent vs. 24.3 percent).
Comparisons within the CB prevention program condition indicated that offspring of currently depressed parents had a significantly higher rate of incident depression than adolescents of currently nondepressed parents. Within the usual care group, rates of depression did not differ significantly between offspring of currently depressed vs. nondepressed parents.
"… these positive findings support the clinical utility of this CB prevention program as a preventive intervention to reduce or delay the incidence of depression in offspring of depressed parents. Most youth in the current study had a history of depression and thus the CB prevention program prevented recurrence. Therefore, this program may be useful as a continuation or maintenance intervention," the authors write.
Nurses are assessing mothers with mental health issues despite lack of guidance and formal training
Researchers have raised serious concerns about the lack of guidance and training provided for nurses involved in assessing the parenting capacity of mothers with serious mental illnesses.
Writing in the May issue of the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, the team have highlighted the need for an audit of current UK services and greater links between health and social care professionals.
But they point out that the basic issues they explored are pertinent to health care systems worldwide.
"There is evidence that social workers responsible for child protection rely heavily on mental health parenting assessments if the mother is receiving psychiatric care" explains Sarah Rutherford from the Faculty of Health, Psychology and Social Care at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.
"These assessments have major implications as they can lead to mothers being separated from their children. Despite this, mental health nurses receive no formal training for this difficult role and there is little information available about how these assessments are being carried out and to what standard.
"Guidance issued by the UK Department of Health on assessing children in need stresses that mental health professionals have a key role to play in determining whether adults are able to care for their children. However, there is no specific guidance on how these assessments should be carried out."
Ms Rutherford, who is a registered mental health nurse and now works as a Practice Trainer adds: "Although our research focused on the situation in the UK, the issues that our paper raises are global concerns as changes in the care and treatment of those with mental illness have led to more women demanding the right to raise their children."
The team's review of current policies and almost 30 social work, medical and nursing studies shows that women with serious mental illness are increasingly involved in parenting as a result of improved medication, enhanced community care and human rights reforms. Studies suggest that as many as 80 per cent are involved in the care of at least one child.
Research also indicates that social workers feel that assessments carried out by mental health nurses are very important when it comes to making decisions about a child's best interests.
But there has been little research to show how mental health nurses are influenced by their own opinions and instincts or whether they take into account how ethnicity, culture, race, religion and socio-economic status can affect how mothers care for their children.
"There are no national UK guidelines or validated tools for assessing the parenting capacity of mothers with a mental illness and no available evidence about how assessments are currently being conducted in psychiatric units" states Ms Rutherford.
"Where local assessment tools are employed, they tend to be used inconsistently and are open to the interpretation of the individual nurse using them. This raises real questions about the quality and objectiveness of the information being gathered."
The situation is being compounded by a lack of formalised training for mental health nurses involved in parenting assessments. And there are no shared professional learning forums with child social workers to ensure that multidisciplinary guidelines can be developed to support families.
As a result of their study, the researchers say the following are vital:
An audit to show how parenting capacity is currently being assessed in psychiatric units, including how the results are being reported and what staff training is being provided.
A qualitative study to establish the training needs of mental health nurses carrying out parenting assessments, in order to develop a standardised assessment tool.
Further follow-up studies of mothers who have undergone parenting assessments, to establish whether the assessments meet the appropriate needs and outcomes.
Joint training between mental health nurses, child protection nurses and child and family social workers to develop effective multidisciplinary working and optimise outcomes.
Appropriate and adequate clinical supervision of mental health nurses carrying out parenting assessments, to tackle issues such as the conflict between protecting the child and caring for the mother.
"Each healthcare system has its own policies and requirements when it comes to assessing a parent's ability to look after their child" concludes Ms Rutherford. "But the concerns about who should determine their capacity, and the training, support and assessment tools they need to help them carry out that role, are pertinent to any system."
CountryEngland & Wales
Mental health stigma hits relationships
A partner is four times more likely to leave you because of a mental health condition like depression than because of a physical disability.
That's just one of the findings in new research for Time to Change, the nationwide campaign - led by Mental Health Media, Mind and Rethink - to end the stigma faced by people with mental health problems.
The survey shows that people's lack of acceptance of mental health problems extends well beyond the boardroom - and into the bedroom.
And attitudes to severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia are even worse. The YouGov survey asked people about issues that would make them break off a romantic relationship and found that 20% of British women wouldn't stay with someone if they were diagnosed with schizophrenia, yet only 1% would break up with someone who became disabled and needed to use a wheelchair.
Such results indicate that mental health conditions are still very stigmatised - and the stigma isn't just in the workplace, but in the closest relationships. A separate survey of almost 4,000 people affected by mental health problems found that stigma is often very close to home - with nearly 30% saying they had experienced prejudice about their mental health from friends and family.
Luckily it isn't that way for everyone. Many do stick by a partner who has a mental health condition and wouldn't dream of leaving them because of it.
Dave Stocks, who had a breakdown and gets depression, said: "I think people do feel awkward when they know you have a mental, rather than physical illness. They're embarrassed, don't know what to say to you.
"Some of my mates reacted like that. But Jools, my girlfriend, she's been great. We've been through some tough times together, but even in my darkest days she stood by me. It can be hard though - I told her it might be easier for her if she didn't tell her friends about my problems, just to make life easier.
"We both know that mental health conditions are stigmatised, but it hasn't stopped us. Being able to be open about it has actually helped my recovery. We're strong and happier now than ever, having been through this together".
Stuart Baker Brown, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia said: "I have been well for a few years now and made a good recovery, but the stigma attached to having a schizophrenia diagnosis still follows me around.
"Dating can be hard at the best of times, but it can be even harder when you're facing outdated attitudes about mental health conditions. I met one woman, and everything was going well, we planned to meet up for a date.
"Then she found out about my diagnosis before I had a chance to tell her and that was it - she just didn't turn up. I later discovered she was worried about her children. She'd assumed I might be dangerous.
"She was wrong, the idea that someone is going to be a danger just because they have had schizophrenia is a myth. It was really hurtful. I've met somebody new now, and she sees the real me, not just the label.
"Thankfully some people can see through the stigma and see the person".
Time to Change is an ambitious programme to end the discrimination faced by people with mental health problems, and improve the nation's wellbeing. The campaign has a string of celebrity supporters, such as Alastair Campbell, Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax and Patsy Palmer - all of whom have experienced mental health problems, as well as the backing of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.
For more information go to www.time-to-change.org.uk.
Source Press Association
Genetic link found between anxiety, depression and insomnia
WESTCHESTER, Ill. – The genes that play a role in adolescent insomnia are the same as those involved in depression and anxiety, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Monday, June 8, at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
Results of the study indicate that insomnia as a diagnosis has a moderate heritability in 8 to 16 year olds, which is consistent with past studies of insomnia symptoms in adults. Significant genetic effects shared between insomnia, depression and anxiety suggests that overlapping genetic mechanisms exist to link the disorders.
According to lead author Phillip Gehrman, PhD, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, researchers involved in the study were surprised that they did not find sleep-specific genetic effects.
"Monozygotic twins did not have higher rates of insomnia. However, if one monozygotic twin had insomnia, their twin was more likely to have insomnia than if they were dizygotic twins."
The sequential cohort study included data from 749 monozygotic twin pairs and 687 dizygotic twin pairs between the age of 8 and 17 and their parents. Mean age was 11.9. Twins and their parents completed the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment (CAPA), and DSM-III-R criteria was used to assess insomnia, depression and anxiety. Criteria for insomnia were met by 19.5 percent of the sample.
Findings of the study suggest that adolescents who are suffering from anxiety and depression should also be screened for insomnia.
More information about children and sleep is available from the AASM at http://www.sleepeducation.com/Topic.aspx?id=8.
Country United States of America
Study suggests mental illness link to parents
Children of bipolar parents have a 13-fold increased chance of suffering the same problem or other psychiatric disorders themselves, a study has shown.
A team of psychiatrists assessed two groups of children aged six to 18 for signs of bipolar disorder - formally known as manic depression - or other problems such as mood or anxiety disorders.
One group of 388 children had mothers or fathers with bipolar disorder. The other group of 251 had parents with no mental health problems.
A total of 10.6% of children with bipolar parents were positively tested for bipolar disorder or mood and anxiety disorders. In comparison, just 0.8% of children of mentally healthy parents had psychiatric conditions.
Children in families where both parents had bipolar disorder were more likely to develop the illness than those with just one bipolar parent.
The study, reported in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry, found that bipolar parents recognised early symptoms in their children.
Dr Boris Birmaher, from the University of Pittsburgh, US, and colleagues wrote: "Consistent with the literature, most parents with bipolar disorder recollected that their illness started before age 20 years and about 20% had illness that started before age 13 years.
"In contrast, most of their children developed their first bipolar disorder episode before age 12 years, suggesting the possibility that parents were more perceptive of their children's symptoms early in life or perhaps that bipolar disorder has more penetrance and manifests earlier in new generations."
They added: "Clinicians who treat adults with bipolar disorder should question those who are parents about their children's psychopathology to offer prompt identification and early interventions for any psychiatric problems that may be affecting the children's functioning, particularly early-onset bipolar disorder."
Source Press Association
Country United Kingdom