The depression treatment gap results from problems with both supply of and demand for services. Mental health services almost always fall short of the depression treatment guidelines, both in terms of quantity and quality. Disease-related factors associated with depression – such as hopelessness, lack of energy, shame and feelings of guilt – result in poor help-seeking behaviour and low rates of adherence to treatment. The stigma associated with depression and the lack of knowledge about depression among health professionals and community facilitators further contribute to under-diagnosis and under-treatment. These factors highlight the need to address the treatment gap using multifaceted interventions.
EAAD was founded to establish a network of experts across Europe, with the objective of implementing action-oriented, community-based public health interventions to improve depression treatment and to reduce suicidality. It is based on the concepts and materials that were developed in the context of the Nuremberg Alliance Against Depression.
Interventions targeting depression and suicidal behaviour were initially implemented across 17 European countries in two project phases, using comparable intervention materials and following the 4-level intervention concept developed by the Nuremberg Alliance. The concepts and materials of the Nuremberg Alliance Against Depression were improved and complemented by input from EAAD partners, translated into different languages, and adapted to national and local needs.
iFightDepression®, which has become the main eMentalHealth-intervention of EAAD, describes an online platform consisting of three parts:
- An awareness website providing detailed information on depression, tailored to the general population as well as young people, family and friends, community professionals, and healthcare professionals. The website also includes a self-test checking for symptoms of depression.
- A guided, internet-based self-management tool for individuals experiencing milder forms of depression that is free of charge for the patient and uses principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy as a basis. It is currently available in Basque, Catalan, English, German, Greek Spanish, Estonian, Norwegian, and Hungarian. The tool consists of informative modules that focus on increasing daily activity, identifying and challenging unhelpful thought patterns, monitoring mood, adopting healthy sleeping patterns, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Worksheets and exercises keep the user actively involved and promote self-monitoring.
- Training materials (e.g. an online training) for healthcare professionals who are interested in implementing iFightDepression® in their practice. National chapters are currently operating in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Spain, with further associate members in Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.