A sustainable approach to depression

Depression is on the rise, and the policy response has so far been insufficient, with huge gaps in care and underfunding of mental health services. 

A sustainable approach to depression

Depression is on the rise, and the policy response has so far been insufficient, with huge gaps in care and underfunding of mental health services. 

Context

More than 35 million people in Europe are estimated to live with depression – and that number is predicted to rise.

By 2030, depression will be the leading cause of disease burden in high-income countries. It is a common condition with multiple causes, and can present very differently depending on the individual. It can affect anyone, at any age, but the rise of depression in young people is a particular concern. Depression beginning in youth is associated with a higher rate of recurrence and poorer outcomes relative to adult-onset depression. Meanwhile, in older people, depression can exacerbate the effects of chronic conditions, more so than in younger populations.

As a leading cause of low productivity, depression imposes a considerable cost on society. More importantly, it is a significant risk factor for suicide. Tragically, around 15–20% of people with depression end their life by suicide.

Mental health awareness has progressed in recent years, but our response to depression remains far from adequate. Mental health services are underfunded and there is too little focus on prevention. The time has come to develop a sustainable approach to depression, to improve the lives of millions of people across Europe.

%

The number of people living with depression rose by 18% between 2005 and 2015

%

Around 15–20% of people with depression end their life by suicide

%

Improved prevention could reduce the incidence of depression by 21%

What we achieved

HPP assembled a group of experts from across Europe to develop a report featuring 10 key policy recommendations, which were used to form a framework for action to provide a sustained policy response to depression. We then identified international case studies of best practice that fit this framework, and conducted telephone interviews to learn more about what had made each project a success, and what lessons had been learnt from implementation. The final report features full write-ups of 16 of these case studies, along with a checklist for future projects based on the lessons learnt.

The report was launched at the European Parliament on 5 December 2018, at a meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Mental health, Well-being and Brain Disorders. The meeting was chaired by Tomas Zdechovsky MEP and Julian Beezhold of the European Psychiatric Association.

The nine organisations behind the report are the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks (GAMIAN – Europe), European Psychiatric Association, European Brain Council, European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Illness (EUFAMI), Expert Platform on Depression, Eurocarers, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, Union Européenne des Médecins Spécialistes (UEMS) Section of Psychiatry and the International Federation for Psychotherapy.

This coalition of organisations will continue its advocacy activities and is considering future actions to stimulate and support better holistic management of major depressive disorders.

Key partners and stakeholders

Authors

  • Julian Beezhold, European Psychiatric Association
  • Frédéric Destrebecq, European Brain Council
  • Maria Fresu, European Psychiatric Association
  • Martin grosse Holtforth, International Federation of Psychotherapy
  • Marc Hermans, Immediate Past President UEMS Section of Psychiatry
  • Kevin Jones, EUFAMI
  • Hilkka Kärkkäinen, GAMIAN – Europe
  • Stephanie Kramer, European Brain Council
  • Alexander Schubert, European College of Neuropsychopharmacology
  • Margaret Walker, EUFAMI
  • Joseph Zohar, Expert Platform on Mental Health Focus on Depression
  • Suzanne Wait, The Health Policy Partnership
  • Alexandra Evans, The Health Policy Partnership

 
Contributor

  • Claire Champeix, Eurocarers
The project was initiated and funded by Janssen.