I wrote briefly before about how my mother viewed depression, that it was simply a matter of getting on with things. In her generation, admitting to being depressed or experiencing any other kind of psychological problem is all too often equated with being weak. Yet depression, in particular, is a common problem in old age, although it is often missed because people don't recognise the symptoms or the symptoms get misattributed to health problem frequently experienced in old age.
So it's good news to hear of a new national peer-education program by the Australian national depression initiative beyondblue in conjunction with the Council on the Ageing (COTA). Over the next 18 months COTA will run a series of information sessions across Australia to increase awareness of depression and where to go for help.
The scheme is based on a pilot program undertaken in South Australia in 2006 which examined the effectiveness of using existing peer support networks to deliver specific depression-awareness education to older people.
“Feedback from participants was extremely
positive with many people stating how
they had struggled with the stigma of
depression for many years."
Ian Yates, COTA SA Chief Executive
beyondblue report that following the sessions, the number of people who could correctly identify the symptoms of depression rose from 28% to 70%. Now that can only be a good thing, right?