NOE, the National Association of Large Families in Hungary, is cooperating in European alliance against depression

How to decrease the burden on families caused by depression? NOE, the National Association of Large Families in Hungary is cooperating as a civil society partner in the EAAD-Best project for building better mental health with the Végeken Mental Health Foundation Hungary

Depression is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease, and most suicides are caused by unrecognised or inadequately treated depression. Depression has an immense influence not only on the individual suffering from it but also on the people surrounding them, in particular family members. There are different programmes to improve care for depression and prevent suicide. A recent systematic review published in September 2022 by a group of researchers from Minneapolis, United States, evaluated 47 international studies published between January 2010 and November 2020. The review concluded that the 4-level intervention concept developed by the European Alliance Against Depression (EAAD) is the most promising tool for prevention.

Lifetime prevalence of depression is around 13% and is associated with reduced life expectancy of approximately ten years. In addition, depression is the most important cause for suicidal behaviour. Around 800,000 completed suicides occur worldwide each year and the number of attempted suicides is estimated to be about 20 times higher. Around 90 % of completed suicides occur in the context of psychiatric disorders, depression being by far the most significant one. Among the younger generation, self-inflicted injuries are a main cause of death worldwide in adolescent girls, and suicide is the leading cause of death for girls between 15 and 19 globally; 46,000 adolescents die from suicide each year, a top 5 cause of death in their age group.

Living together with someone you love and seeing them suffer, whilst bearing the consequences of the disease, is a heavy burden on families – not to mention the worst outcomes, suicidal acts, which may lead to impacting the mental health of all family members.

The relationship between mental disorders, especially depression, and families is complex. However, families can serve a crucial role in recognising the signs of depression, or even responding to a cry for help. Destigmatisation and awareness-raising can help affected individuals to seek help amongst their family members. Depression can be treated – but it must be recognised, and the appropriate help sought.

EAAD-Best – a project of the European Alliance Against Depression

The EAAD-Best project, primarily aims to reduce stigma, improve mental health literacy, and increase help-seeking behaviour with the help of the EAAD four-level intervention concept. Improving recognition and care of depression will decrease the risk of suicide. General Practitioners play the most important role in screening symptoms and offering adequate help and can also be supported by community facilitators and family members who may be the ones to recognize signs in affected individuals.

”Our four-level intervention concept has proven to be the most effective method to combat suicide worldwide. I hope that in the future we will be able to apply it even more widely and thus reduce the number of suicides and prevent a lot of suffering through better care for people with depression.” said Prof. Ulrich Hegerl, President of EAAD and Senckenberg Distinguished Professor at Goethe University in Frankfurt.

In the EAAD-Best project, the four-level intervention concept is being introduced to new countries in Europe (Estonia, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Poland) and new regions in countries where it has already been implemented (Ireland, Hungary and Spain). Further, these countries pursue a nationwide uptake of the iFightDepression®-tool, an internet-based self-management tool for patients with depression, and the iFightDepression® awareness website.

The sooner depressed people get adequate treatment, the less families will be hurt.

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