General News — 09 October 2012
Depression survey finds distressing results

At the start of Mental Health Week, beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell AO says its alarming that beyondblue’s latest Depression Monitor survey shows that many Australians still hold stigmatising attitudes towards people with depression, don’t know the facts and aren’t sure what to do if someone they know shows signs of depression.

Ms Carnell said: “Of the three thousand people who took part in this national telephone survey, around one in three respondents (35%) wrongly believed it is helpful to keep out of the way of someone who is depressed, one in four (25%) wrongly believed people with severe depression should pull themselves together and around one in five (21%) wrongly thought it is helpful to encourage a depressed person to ‘put on a brave face and push on’.”

The Depression Monitor also showed:

 eight out of 10 (80%) respondents agreed that people with depression ‘feel that they are letting their family down’

 almost nine out of 10 respondents (86%) agreed that people with depression may be ‘afraid to tell anyone else about it’.

Ms Carnell said: “Around a million Australian adults live with depression at any one time and we know less than half of them get the help they need – so this puts thousands of people with untreated depression at greater risk of suicide.

“It would help people with depression immensely if their colleagues, friends or family members didn’t ‘keep out of their way’ and didn’t tell them to ‘pull themselves together, put on a brave face and push on’.

“What would be helpful, would be to talk to the person about how they’re feeling and arrange a visit to the GP.

Depression is an illness, not a weakness. People can’t snap out of it, just like they can’t snap out of asthma or diabetes…and just like these illnesses, there are treatments for depression that work.”

Ms Carnell said the limited understanding many people have of mental illness contributes towards stigma which has a significant and negative impact on people.

“It’s not only the discriminatory and stigmatising attitudes that ill-informed people have towards people with depression that stops those people from getting help. Often, those with depression believe that in some way they are to blame for being sick, so they impose stigmatising beliefs on themselves. Feelings of embarrassment or shame often prevent them from talking about how they feel and stops them from getting help and getting better,” she said.

If people feel sad for a prolonged period and lose interest in work, hobbies or things they usually enjoy, it could be a sign of depression. Other symptoms include sleeping problems, lack of energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating and managing day-to-day activities. If these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, the person should talk to a GP or other health professional.

Ms Carnell said: ”

During Mental Health Week, please go to our website www.beyondblue.org.au and do the quick awareness exercise that will show you what you do (and don’t) know about depression. You can also download information resources and posters to display at work to raise awareness. You can follow us on Twitter @beyondblueorg and retweet our posts, or ‘Like us” on Facebook. If you want to find out how to get help for yourself or someone you know, you can call the information line on 1300 22 4636.”

Every day in Australia 65 people will end up in hospital as a result of self-harm. Six will die as a result of suicide. Mental illness and untreated mental illness in particular is a risk factor for suicide. Research shows that mental illness is present in at least 90 per cent of completed suicides and more than 80 per cent are untreated at the time of death.

Ms Carnell concluded: “During Mental Health Week, if everyone recognises the importance of knowing the facts about depression and getting help for yourself or someone else, then more people will feel empowered to take control, get treatment and get their lives back on track.

Media Release: beyondblue

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