Depression affects one million Australians every year, and it is estimated that up to 20 per cent of Australians will experience depressive symptoms at some stage in their life.
Given the prevalence of depression in Australia, families and friends are the largest providers of care and support for people living with depression. These carers are often the forgotten allies in the battle against depression and also face many challenges themselves. Few mental health or counselling services specifically target the information or support needs of carers.
The Partners in Depression program was developed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health (now known as Everymind) to help meet the information and support needs of people who love, live with or support someone experiencing depression. Following the success of a small scale local pilot in 2007-08, nib foundation approved its inaugural national grant in 2009 to enable Everymind to expand the program nationally. This dissemination model provided workforce training to facilitators across Australia who, once accredited, delivered the six session group-based Partners in Depression program to carers in their local communities.
During 2010-2012, the foundation's multi-year grant provided extensive workforce development, and clinical and information support to more than 400 facilitators working in community-based mental health services across Australia.
By 2013 more than 1,750 people had completed the program, developing the knowledge and the necessary skills to support their role as a carer and to improve their own mental health and wellbeing.
This grant also enabled the Everymind to make a significant contribution to the evidence base for carer programs, through their independent national evaluation of Partners in Depression. A comprehensive report on the National Program Outcomes is available here, with key findings including:
- The critical need for programs such as this was demonstrated with 70% of participants reporting elevated psychological distress, and over half reporting that their caring role had a negative impact on their own mental health and wellbeing, ability to engage in social acitivies, and quality of relationships.
- At completion of the program participants showed significant reductions in their levels of psychological distress.
- Program participants agreed that Partners in Depression significantly increased their understanding of depression and the caring experience, with 93% saying they had applied program information.
- Over 80% of particpants particiants reported improvements in their relationships with family and friends, including the person they care for.
98 per cent of participants saying they would recommend the program to someone else.
"For some participants, it's recognising and accepting the value of self-care, for others it's a realisation that they are not alone or it may be learning a particular communication tip that they can see will work for them. Sometimes it's when the person gains a better understanding of depression and how it's affecting the person they care for."
- Jenice, Program Facilitator
"Attending the Partners in Depression group helped me to explore opportunities to resume some aspects of my former life. It has helped me to regain a sense of me as more than just my caring role."
More Info: www.partnersindepression.com.au