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depressioNet Reports Increased Use Of Online Support Service For Workplace-Related Depression
More than 200,000 Australians turn to depressioNet.com.au each year for information help and 24-hour peer support, a figure that increases by 20 percent each year. 79% of those people are workers who say depressioNet has helped them maintain employment while living with depression. Bullying in the workplace is identified as a contributing problem.
20th January 2006
Media Release prepared by the Team at Imago on behalf of depressioNet
Download the Media Release in PDF

© depressioNet

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.

Attention Editors and Producers: A fact sheet follows for your further information. Leanne Pethick, CEO of depressioNet is available for interviews.


  • Since June 2000 more than a million people have visited depressioNet. Many of these people do so on a regular, ongoing basis.
  • The online community has registered 30,000 message board and chat room users since 2002 with 1,000 active members each week, at any given time.
  • There has been a 20 % increase in registered users each year for the past five years.
  • 31% of people who use depressioNet are referred to depressioNet by their healthcare professional.
  • 59% of respondents use depressioNet for more than six months, most of these having visited for longer than 12 months.
  • 22% of depressioNet visitors visit daily and at least 63% monthly.
  • 78% of depressioNet users agree and strongly agree that depressioNet helps them learn new ways to help themselves.
  • 79% of users of depressioNet who are working state that depressioNet has helped them to be able to continue to work while experiencing depression.
  • 75% of users of depressioNet who are working state that using depressioNet has helped them to improve their performance at work.
  • 28% of all users of depressioNet state that using depressioNet has helped them return / start to work.
  • 62% say it helps them to better manage their symptoms.
  • The average time that a person spends at depressioNet is approximately 30 minutes.
  • While most (84%) depressioNet users are diagnosed with depression, nearly 15% of users have no formal diagnosis.
  • 42% of users have other physical or mental illnesses.
  • The main uses of depressioNet:
    • 64% looking for information
    • 38% for treatment
    • 29% are looking for support group resources
    • 48% to ask questions, seek help/support from others
    • 39% to find out how others are doing
  • Using depressioNet allows 87% of users to understand “they are not alone.”

    - 2005 depressioNet User Survey


  • Approximately one in five young people in Australia will experience depression.
  • When asked, young people gave the following reasons why they don’t seek help for their mental health problems:
    • Prefer to manage own problems (38%)
    • Don’t know where to get help (17%),
    • Worried about what other people would think (14%)

    — www.beyondblue.org.au

  • The Internet can reach a mass audience: The Internet offers the opportunity for widely available, updatable, 24-hour, self-paced access to cognitive behaviour therapy.
  • Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures indicate that 56% of Australian homes have access to a computer and that 37% (2.7 million) have access to the Internet.
  • Healthcare is one of the most common reasons for using the Internet.
  • Internet-based interventions are likely to be cost-effective.
  • Computer-assisted assessment is cheaper and more efficient than clinical interviews
  • The Internet is capable of supporting individually-tailored prevention programs:
  • The Internet is capable of supporting automated applications that guarantee intervention fidelity.
  • The Internet provides a convenient platform for delivering booster sessions.
  • Because of its anonymity, users may prefer the Internet to other methods of delivering mental health programs.
  • The Internet can facilitate the refinement and appropriate targeting of prevention programs:
  • The delivery of Internet programs can be informed and improved by medical informatics research.

    — Preventing Depression: The prevention of depression using the Internet Helen Christensen and Kathleen M Griffiths - Australian National University. MJA 2002 177 (7): S122-S125

  • Each year, more than 800 000 adults1 and 95 000 children and adolescents2 are affected by depression. Over 500,000 of these people will be women, with prevalence peaking at age 18 to 24.
  • By international standards, Australia spends a small proportion of its healthcare budget on mental health services (less than 7%), compared with more than 10%–12% in the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.6

    — Preventing depression: a challenge for the Australian community: Ian B Hickie MJA 2002 177 (7): S85-S86

  • By 2020, it is estimated depression will be the second most pervasive health problem worldwide.
  • "Some one in five Australians today have a mental illness, with young men aged 18 - 24 and middle-aged women presenting the highest prevalence.
  • Almost 80 per cent of people with depression also experience anxiety, a physical ailment, and alcohol or other drug misuse

    — Department of Health and Ageing: Depression - The ailment of the 21st Century

    ©depressioNet. Reproduced with Permission

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