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Nature and impact of European anti-stigma depression programmes

Quinn, Neil and Knifton, Lee and Goldie, Isabella and Van Bortel, Tine and Dowds, Julie and Lasalvia, Antonio and Scheerder, Gert and Boumans, Jenny and Svab, Vesna and Lanfredi, Mariangela and Wahlbeck, Kristian and Thornicroft, Graham (2013) Nature and impact of European anti-stigma depression programmes. Health Promotion International, 29 (3). pp. 403-413. ISSN 0957-4824

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Stigma associated with depression is a major public health issue in the EU, with over 20 million people experiencing depression and its associated personal distress each year. While most programmes against stigma related to mental health problems are of a general nature, the knowledge about programmes tackling stigma against people with depression is limited. This study therefore aims to assess the nature and impact of depression-specific programmes in EU countries. Using a web-based tool, 26 programmes were identified across the 18 EU countries taking part in the study. Most were universal and targeted the whole population, while many also targeted specific population groups or settings, such as young people or health professionals. The most common programme aim was improving literacy, although reducing stigmatizing attitudes and discriminatory behaviour and promoting help-seeking were also common. Most programmes originated from professional bodies, or as grassroots initiatives from service user groups/NGOs, rather than as part of national and local policy. The approaches used were primarily different forms of education/information, with some, but very limited, use of positive personal contact. Overall, the quality and extent of impact of the programmes was limited, with few leading to peer-reviewed publications. Specific programmes were identified with evidence of positive impact, and we drew on these examples to develop a framework to be used for future programmes against stigma and discrimination associated with depression. These findings are provided in full in the Anti-Stigma Partnership European Network Toolkit available at www.antistigma.eu.