Alliance Against Depression

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The Alliance Against Depression tagline: Mental Health is Everyone's Business

Good mental health is fundamental to the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.

The strong link between depression and suicide requires a focus on improving access to primary mental health care for all people. This can be achieved by raising awareness of depression, by increasing the number of people who seek treatment and by reducing stigma around depression and suicide.

The Alliance Against Depression (AAD) is an approach based on evaluated trials and is recognised as the world’s best practice for the care of people with depression and in the prevention of suicidal acts. The initial implementation of

Good mental health is fundamental to the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.

The strong link between depression and suicide requires a focus on improving access to primary mental health care for all people. This can be achieved by raising awareness of depression, by increasing the number of people who seek treatment and by reducing stigma around depression and suicide.

The Alliance Against Depression (AAD) is an approach based on evaluated trials and is recognised as the world’s best practice for the care of people with depression and in the prevention of suicidal acts. The initial implementation of the framework in the trial region of Nuremberg (The Nuremberg Alliance Against Depression) resulted in a 24% reduction of suicidal acts within a two-year period.

The AAD Coordination Centre at WA Primary Health Alliances supports local Alliances with resources, tools, and case studies. These support materials are informed by the European Alliance Against Depression (EAAD) Coordination Centre in Germany and from other alliances globally.


The Alliance Against Depression Framework

Anyone can start an Alliance

All local Alliances start with a small number or people wanting to improve the mental health and well-being of their community. Those ‘initiators’ then follow three stages to work with networks across the community to prepare, plan and implement their local Alliance.


  • Meet Dr Daniel Rock, Principal Advisor and Research Director at WA Primary Health Alliance

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    22 September, 2020
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    I had been studying and working on suicide for years and had obtained rather generous recurrent funding to establish a translational research centre. The obvious question was given all that we know, what interventions work outside of trials? So, I undertook a review and it turns out there are very few studies in real world settings and contexts with unselected participants and this remains the case today. This is not to discount social determinants at all. Indeed, these are foundational, but largely out of scope for health services and often misinterpreted as well. Of course, I knew about Ulrich Hegerl's work, President of the EAAD, but I had not examined it in any detail. I was quite skeptical about some of the reported claims, but over the course of the review it became increasingly clear it had the strongest evidence for real world applicability at scale.

    It is important to understand it is not WAPHA who creates or determines value but the individuals who use the services we commission, live in the places where these are and systems we help develop, and this value is created (or lost) by the local teams (GPs and others) who deliver the care ,and nowhere else. EAAD unlocks the power that exists in local communities to improve the treatment and care of people with depression and, in doing so, prevent suicide. It is not a panacea. It is not an approach to tackle social determinants. It is about supporting communities to take effective action to make their system work better for them.

    Read the full Q&A here.

  • Meet Pauline from Busselton-Dunsborough AAD

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    26 August, 2020
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    When I first read about the European Alliance Against Depression and Dr. Hegerl’s work in Nuremburg I was excited. I hadn’t previously read of any research that had resulted a significant reduction of suicidal behaviour by more than 20%. The important thing with this programme is that its evidence based and community-led and developed within a particular locality with its own special attributes and needs. When you look at the numbers, with 8 people dying every day by suicide and more young Australians (15 – 44) dying from suicide than any other cause, it’s distressing. When you know family or friends that have loss a loved one by suicide it’s a further compelling reason for being involved. That’s why the Alliance Against Depression is important to me. The EAAD is mentioned by the European commission as a best practice example within the Green Paper 'Improving the mental health of the population: Towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union' (European Commission 2005).

    in 2018 when I moved to Busselton and didn’t know anyone and could no longer be involved in the groups I was involved in in Perth, I decided to become a Mental Health First Aid Instructor. I am a retired Psychiatrist and previously worked in the general adult psychiatry area. I thought that with this background I may be able to contribute to the mental health field in promoting mental health awareness.

    Read the full Q&A here,

  • Meet Kelly from Waroona AAD (who also played an integral role in Murray AAD)

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    26 August, 2020
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    My relationship with the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) started early 2017 when I was working at the Shire of Murray as the Senior Community Development Officer. The Shire of Murray was one of two Local Government areas selected by WAPHA to deliver community led suicide prevention intervention to improve mental health outcomes for young Aboriginal people living in the regions. The need for a specialised program and funding support was identified through the WA Primary Health Needs Assessment for the South Metropolitan area.

    The needs assessment identified that regional areas face additional barriers in accessing mental health supports, due to limited service provision, no public transport and limited training opportunities. In early 2017, the Shire of Murray in conjunction with the Bindjareb Reference Group, developed the ‘Completing the Circle’ program, a community led approach derived from the Aboriginal Medicine Wheel for holistic healing. The Shire of Waroona also developed community led initiatives targeting Aboriginal youth in their Local Government area. Late 2017, ‘Perth South’ was announced as one of 12 National Suicide Prevention Trial Sites and the only site with a youth focus.

    The Shires of Murray and Waroona became part of ‘Perth South’ trial site along with Mandurah, Rockingham and Kwinana. It was an easy transition for the two Shires to the Alliance Against Depression framework as the focus on youth aligned with work that had already commenced in respective communities. The Alliance Against Depression framework allowed Murray and Waroona to broaden their original project scope to a wider community approach around mental health and local service provision.

    Read the full Q&A here.

  • Meet Darren from Kalamunda AAD

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    26 August, 2020
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    Having had over twenty years’ experience working in the Heavy, Construction and Fly In, Fly Out (FIFO) Mining industries, I have seen firsthand the impact Mental Health issues have; not only at work but in our personal lives and with our families. I also have a lived experience of depression and anxiety though at the time, like so many others, I could not see it for what was. I have since learnt that these feelings of anxiety or depression are not something to be ignored, pushed aside or self-medicated in unhealthy ways.


    Read the full Q&A here.

  • 2020 Mental Health Week grants available

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    18 June, 2020
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    Grants of up $1,000 are available for organisations to hold community events and activities which supports the goals of Mental Health Week (10-17 October 2020). Apply for funding and read the criteria here.

    Mental Health Week is a national week celebrated each year in October kicking off with World Mental Health Day on October 10. This year’s Mental Health Week theme is Strengthening Our Community – Live, Learn, Work, Play continuing to aim at increasing mental wellbeing in WA communities. Find out more and download resources here.

  • Inside My Mind depression awareness campaign wins gold

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    20 April, 2020
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    The Inside My Mind depression awareness campaign by WA Primary Health Alliance has won best Television Campaign, and Best Integrated Campaign, at the Campaign Brief Awards.

    This announcement closely follows Inside My Mind receiving a silver award for Best Online Film and three bronze awards across Best TV Individual, Best TV Campaign and Best Integrated Campaign at the Perth Advertising and Design Club awards, and receiving a finalist nomination in the category of Marketing Excellence at the AIM WA Pinnacle Awards.

    The campaign aimed to reach at-risk populations with higher than average suicide rates, as part of the Australian Government National Suicide Prevention Trials, to help them recognise depression in themselves or others, and to direct them to the best help available for their unique needs.

    The campaign documents the true stories of four Western Australians with lived experience of depression, using real people rather than actors, to empower lived experience in the suicide prevention sector, and to promote authenticity in marketing.

    “It is exciting to have the campaign recognised at this level, as it gives real people in the community a voice,” Suicide Prevention Program Manager, Sharleen Delane said.

    “People with a lived experience of depression bring insight, wisdom and a unique perspective that is critical to informing the best approaches to suicide prevention and community education.”

    “This was especially important for Inside My Mind as it gave our audience proof that they are not alone in their experience, and that while that experience can be varied and complex, there is real hope for a journey back from depression.”

    However, sharing a personal story of mental health can bring up uncomfortable or distressing feelings and it is critical to create a safe, supportive space for sharing when engaging lived experience speakers.

    WA Primary Health Alliance aimed to lead by example in the mental health sector and media by empowering community members with lived experience to share their story, but also by safeguarding them appropriately in the process.

    “All participants had a support staff member allocated during filming, who continued to check in with participants in the days and months following the creation of the campaign,” Sharleen said.

    “When new media opportunities presented, participants were approached openly and encouraged to voice any concerns or decline any opportunities they did not feel prepared for.”

    Additionally, WA Primary Health Alliance used the Mindframe guidelines to inform the campaign which supports safe media reporting and communication about mental ill-health, and took an active role in ensuring all media reporting around the campaign adhered to these guidelines.

    After garnering more than 5 million views in just four months, the campaign has been relaunched, using key learnings from the initial success to explore new avenues and reach more people, who may be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or low, during uncertain times. It shows the variety of ways you can take positive steps for your mental health, and continues to showcase real people and real stories.

    WA Primary Health Alliance hopes to encourage other organisations in Western Australia to consider safely empowering real people to share their stories, to safeguard lived experience participants in initiatives, and to report on mental ill health responsibly.

    WA Primary Health Alliance would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of creative partners RARE and Carat Australia, who went above and beyond to support the Inside My Mind campaign in its first launch and its continuation.

  • Adapting to the current online environment

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    08 April, 2020
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    We can all appreciate Coronavirus is a rapidly changing environment for all of us. The community in Fremantle decided that now more than ever a local Alliance is important and physical distancing would not get in their way. They jumped online mid-March to discuss their community response to Coronavirus as well what actions they need to take to move forward to Alliance Against Depression. There are lots of options for virtual meetings so human connection and local AAD meetings don't need to stop, we just need to do things a little differently. You can try Zoom or Google Hangout just to name a couple. If you know of any good one please share in the comments.

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  • Fremantle Alliance Against Depression

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    26 February, 2020
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    Over 20 stakeholders in Fremantle met last week to learn about the Alliance Against Depression framework and how it would work in their community. There was diversity in representation across the four pillars, meeting one of the first recommendations in the AAD Handbook.

    The commitment and urgency for a local Alliance was apparent in how everyone came to the table in a supportive and constructive way. Early in the discussions it was identified a local coordinator was needed to get this off the ground.

    It was obvious AAD was in line with what most people were already doing. This led to the agreed approach of resourcing the coordinator role as a collective. We saw a commitment to work towards embedding AAD into existing positions at various organisations. Each organisation plans to take turns leading the coordination in 4-6 month blocks.

    This is a fantastic example of a local community getting behind the AAD framework. This collaborative attitude will be integral to the future and commitment within Fremantle. The Fremantle community is full off passion, drive and creativity and we can't wait to go on this journey with them.

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  • Beginning of an exciting collaboration with Europe

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    17 January, 2020
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    WA Primary Health Alliance has been a member with the EAAD since 2017 and launched the AAD Coordination Centre in 2019. We have loved learning from the team in Liepzig, Germany and are excited to be working with them on a solution to better connect all EAAD members across the world. There are currently 14 National Chapters across the globe in Europe, Canada, Australia and Chile. It is a beautiful thing to see so many different countries working together towards a similar goal.

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  • Murray AAD and Waroona AAD present at the 2019 WALGA Mental Health Forum

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    13 November, 2019
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    Alliance Against Depression were invited to present a case study with the Shires of Murray and Waroona at the 2019 WALGA Mental Health Forum on Monday 11 November.

    In early 2017 WA Primary Health Alliance partnered with both Shires to deliver a Aboriginal Mental Health program and Youth Specific engagement. This partnership was supported through community consultation.

    Mid 2017, Perth South was announced as a National Suicide Prevention Trial Site (SPTS) which includes Kwinana, Rockingham, Mandurah, Murray and Waroona. Out of the 12 SPTS Perth South was the only site to focus solely on youth which provided the opportunity to continue the partnership with both Shires.

    The SPTS were informed by the European Alliance Against Depression and guided by the Peel and Rockingham Kwinana Steering Group (PaRK CRSG), an existing community group. The learning from this trial allowed WA Primary Health Alliance to establish the AAD Coordination Centre and support local communities outside the SPTS since July 2019.

    This presentation had us reflecting on all the initiatives out of these two communities and we are so proud of their achievements.

    Shire of Murray - Completing the Cycle

    The Completing the Circle project will engage with young Aboriginal people in the Shire of Murray, the Murray Aboriginal community, service providers and general practice. It will adopt a holistic approach that supports physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing. Achieving balance in these four points of the Medicine Wheel leads to harmony and social well-being to address mental health issues.

    Key initiatives include:

    • Murray Community Support Hub
    • Amazing Race Pinjarra
    • Pinjarra Massacre Commemoration
    • Mooditj Wirrin Back to Country Camp

    The shire also won the Public Health Award at the 2019 Local Government Policy Awards and were finalists for two WA Mental Health Awards - Innovation for Change and Diversity.

    Shire of Waroona - Baldja Program

    The Shire of Waroona introduced WYLD Program, Waroona Youth Leadership Development Program "a holistic approach to Aboriginal Youth Mental Health"

    Key initiatives include:

    • zero2hero Sports Camp
    • Youth Mental Health First Aid
    • Cultural Camps
    • Clontarf Workshops and Mentorships
    • Monthly Engagement Activities

    Waroona have had two AAD community meetings with the first meeting seeing 17 people from 10 different agencies. Great example of the local support required for a community-led initiative.

    We look forward to seeing both communities moving forward and formally establishing their Alliances Against Depression.