MELBOURNE – Not-for-profit website depressioNet.com.au (dNet) has recorded a surge of users after recent high-profile Australians have made public admissions about depression.
In the 24 hours following the resignation of Geoff Gallop on Monday, depressioNet registered an increase of 48% in visitors and a staggering 104% increase in registrations to join the service’s online support community (messageboard and chat rooms). The greatest increase in activity occurred in the work and study forums, followed closely by those seeking help for a colleague or family member.
depressioNet is an online community where a broad range of people living with depression, including family and friends, gather to support and encourage one another in a safe, moderated environment.
“Depression in the workplace has been identified as the fastest-growing mental health issue in Australia. We are seeing an increase in people coming to depressioNet who require tailored services to help them cope with the day-to-day pressures of the workplace and the problems involved in working while living with depression,” says depressioNet CEO, Leanne Pethick.
depressioNet’s increasing population is paralleled by the growing awareness and diagnosis of Australians suffering from depression each year.
“Bullying in the workplace is also a major issue right now,” says Dr. Rob Moodie, CEO of VIC Health and depressioNet board member. “Bullying makes people depressed and politicians in particular need to cope with this problem – Parliament being the hotbed of acrimony that it is. The rise of bullying and depression in the place of work is something people often stew over in the middle of the night. That’s why it is important that a unique service like depressioNet exists to confidentially help people at any time of the day or night.”
“High-profile politicians Geoff Gallop and John Brogden have raised public curiosity about depression. Their courage in coming forward can only help our country become more knowledgeable and compassionate about the impact depression has on the lives of real people like us,” says Pethick. “When people in the workplace reveal they have or have had depression, the most common reaction from colleagues is surprise or disbelief. We are good at putting on the mask and ‘soldiering on’ while the reality inside is very different.”
One in five Australians will experience major depression at some time in their lives. The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2020 depression will be the second most pervasive health problem worldwide.
depressioNet provides more than 10,000 people each year with referral information to localised professional and complementary services based on their individual needs.
Self-help via the Internet is now acknowledged by the mental health industry as an essential resource for people with depression. The anonymity and self-determination of the online environment provides a perfect self-help solution for an illness that still has much stigma associated with it. As one of the first to deliver quality online peer support services, depressioNet has contributed significantly to this acceptance.
“It is essential that people living with depression have the opportunity to safely communicate with other people they can relate to and understand,” says Pethick. “Education about the condition, information on symptoms and treatment options, access to quality professional treatments and the ability to access peer support and encouragement are all important elements in the recovery process.
”In the past, the focus has been on providing services for people who are so unwell they are unable to work. Resources for awareness, support and education need to be tailored to better meet the needs of people in the workplace and focused to ensure that appropriate support and assistance is available to all Australians,” she says.
depressioNet has helped prevent the deaths of hundreds of people at high risk of suicide.
“When anyone using our message board or chat rooms is feeling unsafe, or is concerned another person may be, a trained Online Care Team member is on hand to assist 24 hours a day,” says Pethick.
ABOUT: depressioNet empowers people to make informed choices and find solutions to the challenge of living with depression. Since June 2000, depressioNet.com.au has provided comprehensive information, help and 24-hour-a-day peer-based support to more than a million people living with depression, their families and friends. The service provides extensive information about the illness, its impact and treatment, along with referrals to professional treatment and community-based support resources. depressioNet’s trained Online Care Team ensure depressioNet is a safe and supportive online environment. depressioNet is supported by healthcare professionals and funded via a variety of partners, grants, donations from the community and government financial assistance.