The National Depression Initiative (NDI) aims to reduce the impact of depression and anxiety on the lives of New Zealanders by aiding early recognition, appropriate treatment, and recovery.
The National Depression Initiative is part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to preventing suicide, along with improving the mental health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders. First launched in 2006, the National Depression Initiative originated from the first New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006–2016 (Goal 1: Promote mental health and wellbeing, and prevent mental health problems).
Operational responsibility for NDI’s population health and social marketing initiatives was transferred from the Ministry of Health to the Health Promotion Agency, in 2012 following the establishment of the crown entity to deliver the Government’s health promotion functions. In November 2015, the depression helpline and counselling support services component of the National Depression Initiative became part of the integrated National Telehealth Service.
The Ministry of Health retains strategic oversight of the National Depression Initiative as part of its broader mental health work programme, working in partnership with both the Health Promotion Agency and telehealth provider Homecare Medical Limited.
The National Depression Initiative framework
The objectives of the NDI framework are to:
- strengthen individual, family and social factors that protect against depression and anxiety
- improve family, community and professional responsiveness to depression and anxiety.
- Identify and build on opportunities to create a social and physical environment that protects people from depression and anxiety.
- Encourage people to recognise and become more responsive to depression and anxiety, including:
- the importance of early identification and intervention
- assisting people to recognise symptoms of depression and anxiety in themselves and others
- encouraging people to seek appropriate help
- increasing awareness of effective interventions for depression and anxiety, including self help strategies.
- Improve the capability of health professionals to respond appropriately to people seeking help with depression and anxiety.
- Support coordination mechanisms between public health, primary health care and mental health care services, consistent with the objectives of the National Depression Initiative.
- Support the above with research, monitoring and evaluation.
Components of the National Depression Initiative
The National Depression Initiative (NDI) is made up of a number of components: the depression.org.nz website that includes an online self-help tool (The Journal), and a youth-focused website lowdown.co.nz. These tools are supported by television, radio and online advertising, print resources; and telephone triage and advice, and counselling services for people seeking help for themselves or others. Complementing the public-facing resources and services are support for health partners and engagement with wider sector stakeholders; research, evaluation and monitoring.
depression.org.nz and lowdown.co.nz websites
Both depression.org.nz and lowdown.co.nz websites and associated resources provide information about depression and anxiety, and where to find help.
Fronted by Sir John Kirwan (JK), depression.org.nz aims to support adults at risk of or experiencing depression and anxiety, along with their family and friends. The depression.org.nz website is being updated with new content and functionality, with an expected launch in mid-2016. The online self-help tool The Journal, accessible through depression.org.nz, is also undergoing an update in 2016.
The lowdown.co.nz website is aimed at young people aged 12 to 20. First launched in 2007, the Lowdown was updated in 2015, to include updated content and functionality, adding information on anxiety as well as depression. The website includes a forum where young people can share their experiences and get input from both peers and trained moderators.
- depression helpline 0800 111 757
- 24/7 access to individual counselling support is available free to users as part of the National Telehealth Service. For users of The Lowdown, the service also responds to texts (text 5626) and emails, and moderates the Lowdown forum.
Health education resources on depression and anxiety
A range of print and downloadable education resources are accessible from the Health Promotion Agency website.
Research, evaluation and monitoring
Research and monitoring related to the National Depression Initiative are updated on the Health Promotion Agency’s website, and include:
- surveys of population attitudes, behaviour and knowledge
- the New Zealand Mental Health Survey (since 2015)
- qualitative research to inform the development of campaign components such as websites and advertising.
- Information and resources for people dealing with depression
- Information and resources for people experiencing postnatal depression
Other strategies in mental health and primary care
As well as contributing to preventing suicide, the NDI is also consistent with the strategic direction and objectives of mental health and primary care strategies, for example:
- Rising to the Challenge: The Mental Health and Addiction Service Development Plan 2012–2017
- Like Minds, Like Mine National Plan 2014–2019: Project to Counter Stigma and Discrimination Associated with Mental Illness (2014)
- Te Rau Hinengaro: NZ Mental Health Survey (2006)
- New Zealand Primary Health Care Strategy (2001).
Publications on the National Depression Initiative
Publications that precede the transition of NDI to the Health Promotion Agency are available in our Library catalogue.