I would like to provide you with some background on the Anti-Depression Association of Australia (ADAA), which I chair.
The ADAA started two years ago and carried on from another organisation, the Anti Depression Institute, which was created while we were working out what we can do to help a wider audience.
Beyond Blue is Australia’s best organisation at promoting depression. It is fantastic at awareness and desensitising people to the idea of admitting to depression and talking about it. But we wanted to go the next step and focus on solutions. So we went looking for things that work.
Take the case of a psychologist from the Gold Coast. He came to us and said he had a cure for bi-polar depression. So at the moment we are investigating: is it real? Does it work? He has to produce to us 10 clients who say they are cured and then we have to test his technique on other clients. There are lots of solutions to things that people do not seem to know about. They are hidden solutions.
Jeff Kennett, the chair of Beyond Blue, said to me ten years ago that you cannot fix depression but there is a lot you can do to help. You can strengthen a person’s social environment and social support. The person can take some healthier lifestyle choices, or increase fitness.
But that to me is not enough. My first example is a friend. We did all those things. We started walking every day and started eating healthier. He cut back on drinking and started better sleeping habits. Three months later, he still had depression but he was just healthier. That was all we knew at the time.
Here is what I believe: anxiety and depression are not difficult to fix if you have the right tools, and a one to three month period to work with. Most programs we recommend last from one to two months with lots of follow up available, if it is needed. What clients need is new behaviour in their lifestyle.
We have treated 4.500 clients through various organisations over a decade come February 2012.