Alliance Against Depression

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.

  • Spring heralds a new focus on mental health outcomes

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    For Mental Health Week, WA Primary Health Alliances Dr Jon Pfaff - Senior Advisor Mental Health, has written an insightful piece on the role of general practice and PHNs in suicide prevention. As Western Australia enters spring, and nature bursts into life with the pageantry of colour and growth that accompanies the season, it is somewhat paradoxical that the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases its annual Causes of Death report for the country. Click here to read more, including a summary of the report.

  • WA Alliance Coordinators Networking Session

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    Earlier this month the WA Alliance Against Depression Coordinators got together to connect and share wins, challenges and ideas. It has been a big year for local Alliances in WA. The majority of them are coordinated by volunteers and they continue to accomplish milestones in this everchanging environment, recognising that improving treatment of depression is critical and the power of a whole of community approach. Belmont AAD and Cockburn Fremantle Cockburn AAD have recently launched their alliance with diverse stakeholder representation and support. You can read more about their launch events here. Kalamunda AAD is currently working with their neighbouring community in Mundaring to expand their alliance across both LGA’s to re-form as Kalamunda Mundaring AAD or Perth Hills Alliance. Rockingham AAD have recently been reinvigorated after a tough year and are working on ways to position themselves as a community group alongside the Peel and Rockingham Kwinana Community Steering Group also known as PaRK. Busselton Dunsborough AAD have had some wins securing grants to deliver training to rural and remote communities and are planning to launch mid-2022.

    There are lots of incredible initiatives and partnerships being developed within, and across, the Alliances. These face to face meetings are about nurturing the relationships between Alliances and working smarter not harder to reduce duplication and collaborate as one team.

    If you live in one of these areas and are interested in knowing what they are doing in your community please jump onto Facebook and give their page a like and stay connected:

    Congratulations to all the incredible people behind each local WA Alliance Against Depression and thank you for all the hard work you continue to do for your community.

  • Belmont AAD launch on World Suicide Prevention Day 2021

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    On Friday 10 September over 50 stakeholders and community members met to celebrate the launch of Belmont Alliance Against Depression. Belmont was the second grassroots Alliance to establish late 2019 and through strong partnerships within community was able to meet this incredible milestone. Nearly 20 local service providers came to share how they support people at-risk or living with depression in the Belmont community. For more information visit their website and keep update with their activities on Facebook.

    See more pictures from the launch here

  • A Clinician’s Guide to Low Intensity Psychological Interventions (LIPIs) for Anxiety and Depression

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    WA Primary Health Alliance has launched it’s Low Intensity Psychological Intervention (LIPI) manual developed in partnership with Curtin University and the Centre for Clinical Interventions.

    The manual provides clinicians with evidence-based information to implement low intensity psychological interventions for adults with anxiety and depression.

    Visit the WA Primary Health Alliance website to download a copy of the LIPI manual and find support for developing your own LIPIs.

    You can also watch virtual discussion with some of the key contributors on the genesis of the manual and overview of the cognitive behavioural framework and its clinical applications

  • Imagined Futures AAD launch and celebrate Lotterywest grant

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    From left to right: Dr Daniel Rock, Kaine Grigg, Michael Piu (CEO St Pats and Chair of IF Leadership Group), Leigh Sinclair (Executive Officer at IF), Minister Simone McGurk, Alex Pearce (Fremantle Dockers) and Trish Owens (lived experience consultant)

    On Friday 18 June over 50 local Cockburn, Fremantle and Melville stakeholders gathered to celebrate the launch of Imagined Futures Alliance Against Depression (IF AAD), who were awarded a Lotterywest grant to enable them to move into the implementation phase of AAD.

    Fremantle AAD, now IF AAD, was one of the first grassroots communities to show interest in Alliance Against Depression (AAD) in July 2019 when the Coordination Centre launched. Throughout the past year, Imagined Futures has worked with a wide variety of inspiring and knowledgeable individuals and organisation's to develop this collective approach, promote improved care and support for people living with depression and build IF AAD into a sustainable initiative.

    At Friday's event, Minister Simone McGurk presented IF AAD with a Lotterywest grant to move into ‘Stage 3: Implementation’ for another 12 months. This is a remarkable achievement for these three communities, and an important recognition of AAD in WA.

    Congratulations to everyone involved!

  • Busselton-Dunsborough AAD Community Meeting

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    On Monday 22 April over 50 stakeholders gathered to talk about depression and discuss emerging priorities. Through an interactive Q&A a number of issues were raised leading to clear suggestions and next steps for the BD AAD. The purpose of the community meeting was to re-engage a diverse range of stakeholders, of which all four pillars were represented, and seek active participation.

    The evening was opened with a Welcome to Country by Aunty Gloria and a breathtaking Acknowledgement of Country by the Wadan Warangkiny singing group. Libby Mettam Vasse MLA showed her support with introductory comments on her commitment to resourcing mental health service in the area. City of Busselton Mayor, Grant Henley, reflected on his own personal experience and hiddenness of depression in his growing up years and the need for mental health to be at the forefront of the health agenda. Grant participates in and co-founded the local chapter of The Man Walk which delivers important men's health messages as well as connection and activity. BD AAD Coordinator and volunteer, Pauline Vigus, presented on the Alliance to date and shared the vision, mission, and goals for the Busselton Dunsborough community. Maya Cherian from WA Primary Health Alliance provided some context to the European model and the key message of integration across all four-pillars. The formalities ended with a raw note from BD AAD Community Champion Josh Grocock Smith who spoke with passion about his journey as both College captain and the SHIFT youth crew.

    A community meeting is an effective way to build an Alliances network, spread key messages and identify opportunities. Congratulations to the Busselton Dunsborough community and we look forward to following the actions that came out of the evening.

  • WA Primary Health Alliance's Health Planning team focus on depression.

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    Depression in WA

    Depression affects around 8.8% of Western Australians, being more prevalent in women than men (11.9% compared with 5.7% respectively) (Radomiljac, Joyce & Powell, 2017). By 2030, The World Health Organisation estimates that depression will be the number one health concern in both developed and developing countries (Christodoulou, 2012). Depression can be caused by a multitude of factors including challenging and stressful circumstances, loss of a loved one, childhood experiences and trauma, loss of a job, or use of substances (alcohol, drugs) (Black Dog Institute).


    • Irritable and sad mood
    • Poor concentration
    • Reduced energy
    • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
    • Recurrent thoughts of death and suicide (Beyond Blue, 2020)

    At risk individuals

    People most at risk of depression include (Black Dog Institute, 2020):

    • Older Australians (over 65 years old)
    • People with a family history of depression
    • Women
      • Experience depression twice as often as men
      • 1 in 7 new mums experiencing post-natal depression (PANDA, 2017)
    • Personality factors (self-critical, negative, worries a lot, a perfectionist)
    • Those experiencing challenging life experiences, abusive relationships, serious physical health problems and drug and alcohol use

    Treatment and managing the condition

    In WA there were 314 psychiatrists, 2,614 mental health nurses and 2,770 psychologists (Mental Health Commission). In 2017-18, $9.9 billion was spent on mental health (AIHW, 2020). Psychological treatments are especially important to keep patient’s anxiety and depression under control and reduce irrational worries. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a form of treatment which allows the patient to identify thought and behaviour patterns that contribute to their anxiety and replace these with strategies to cope with triggers.

    By making lifestyle changes a health professional can develop personalised recommendations for treatment such as:

    • Psychological therapy
    • Interpersonal therapy
    • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
    • Anti-depressants
    • Self-help and support groups
    • E-therapies

    Prevalence of the population with depression doctor diagnosed within the past 12 months, HWSS, Adults 16+ years, 2013 to 2017

    Western Australia Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System

    The WA Health and Wellbeing Surveillance (HWSS) was established by the Department of Health in 2002 to monitor the health status of the general WA population.

    Mental health conditions require effective management, including targeted and sustainable community-based mental health care which can utilise a combination of therapies and medications to prevent mental health deterioration.

    Mental health is a significant burden to the health system. The current best-practice guidelines for the prevention, diagnosis and management of depression have been created for health practitioners by researchers and medical experts. To support general practitioners and their teams to provide high-quality management, Beyond Blue have developed guidelines to give evidence-based, up-to-date information tailored for specific health professionals (Beyond Blue, 2020). Guidelines are available here:


    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Mental health services in Australia. Retrieved from

    Beyond Blue. Statistics. Retrieved from

    Beyond Blue. Clinical Practice Guidelines. Retrieved from

    Black Dog Institute. Facts & figures about mental health. Retrieved from

    Department of Health Western Australia, WA Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System 2013-2017

    Department of Health (2012). Postnatal anxiety and depression. What Dads and Mums need to know. Retrieved from

    PANDA (2017). After Birth. Retrieved from

    Radomiljac A, Joyce S and Powell A 2017. Health and Wellbeing of Adults in Western Australia 2016, Overview and Trends. Department of Health, Western Australia

  • AAD recognised as a system-based model in the WA Suicide Prevention Framework 2021-2025

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    In October 2020 the Mental Health Commission launched their new Suicide Prevention Framework for 2021-2025 (The Framework) . It sets the direction for future action to reduce deaths by suicide in Western Australia and is very much in line with the aims of Alliance Against Depression. The Framework references contemporary research that supports implementing a system-based approach and recognises Alliance Against Depression as one of the supporting models. There are four streams identified in The Framework:

    • Prevention/ early intervention;
    • Support/ Aftercare;
    • Postvention and;
    • Aboriginal people.

    All activities to support the priority areas within these streams are underpinned by 11 guiding principles:

    A whole of community approach is evident and a humble reminder of the important work each local Alliance is doing. Read the Framework here.

  • Inaugural AAD Workshop 2020

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    On Tuesday 24 November, local WA Alliance Against Depression coordinators heard from President of the European Alliance Against Depression, Professor Ulrich Hegerl, at the first virtual AAD Workshop. It was a unique opportunity for local Alliance coordinators to connect with each other as well as the EAAD team, who were all in attendance. Prof Hegerl presented ‘Community based 4-level interventions targeting depression and suicidal behaviour: lessons learnt’. This was followed by robust conversation and the opportunity for Alliance coordinators to draw on the wisdom and experience from the EAAD team. Professor Hegerl has been committed to better research and education about depression and suicide prevention for more than 30 years and the presentation was a welcome reminder as to why we focus on depression.

    This was followed by an introduction to My Community Directory's Network Feature. My Community Directory is a free for health, social and community services and free for users to find services and events. Alliances Against Depression are encouraged to use My Community Directory as part of their service mapping, identifying gaps and promoting use within their community to improve access to services.

    All 6 local Alliances in WA were represented as well as the Mental Health Commission Suicide Prevention Coordinators. There were plenty of ideas shared, and what was apparent, is the enhanced connection to community and place after what has been a tough year for many and the increased need for a collaborative community-led initiative such as Alliance Against Depression. Next steps for the local Alliances are agreement to continue to foster the WA network and stay connected, so watch this space. Thank you to all those who made the first workshop such a success and we can't wait to see what the next year brings

  • Kalamunda AAD first community meeting

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    Over 25 people came together in the middle of October to meet the people behind Kalamunda AAD and view a presentation on the AAD framework delivered by the coordination team at WA Primary Health Alliance. The conversation was organic and meaningful, highlighting the community passion and commitment to each other. It was agreed to maintain momentum and meet again in a fortnight to start stakeholder mapping and identify priority groups. We cannot wait to hear about their progress.