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Leading international experts endorse first-of-its-kind global depression awareness and anti-stigma Action Plan


‘Breaking Through Barriers’ initiative set to raise awareness of depression and overcome barriers to diagnosis

Amsterdam/Netherlands, 25 October 2005 – Coinciding with the 18th Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP), the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), leading international psychiatrists and mental health advocates joined forces to launch ‘Breaking Through Barriers,’ an international Action Plan designed to bridge the gaps in understanding of depression and reduce the stigma associated with this condition.

‘Breaking Through Barriers’ is a long-term, international educational campaign comprising activities that aim to make a difference to people suffering from depression across the globe, including the estimated 33.4 million people with depression in Europe.1 ‘Breaking Through Barriers’ is sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company and Boehringer Ingelheim.

“The goal of this initiative is to raise the worldwide standard of care in depression diagnosis and treatment among doctors, while reducing the stigma of depression. This campaign will provide patients with information on depression, improve physician training and encourage better patient-physician communication so more depressed people can get the best possible care,” said Patt Franciosi, PhD, immediate past president of the WFMH.

The `Breaking Through Barriers` Action Plan includes:

* The launch of an innovative international and regional public awareness campaign, spearheaded by the WFMH and endorsed by patient advocacy groups across the globe. The campaign aims to provide the most up-to-date depression information, resources and research to patients, families, and healthcare practitioners – via a comprehensive web portal, public service announcements, advocacy group communications and local media – to help those impacted by depression better understand this serious medical condition so more depressed people can get well
* ‘Depression Monologues’ – a workshop that allows people with depression to share their individual stories, as a way of reducing stigma, raising awareness of the full spectrum of symptoms associated with the condition, and ultimately improving patient quality of life
* An assessment of medical school curricula about depression and, potentially, a joint effort, in partnership with leading psychiatry organizations, to improve them, with an emphasis on increasing awareness of the full range of presenting depression symptoms
* The development of medical education programs and information resources for practicing primary care physicians, based on a novel approach, designed to improve depression diagnosis and treatment

The ‘Breaking Through Barriers’ Action Plan was developed by the WFMH and a panel of experts in the field of mental health in response to the findings from an international survey conducted earlier this year: ‘Depression: The Painful Truth.’ The survey revealed that people with depression waited, on average, more than 11 months before consulting their doctor and were diagnosed with depression only after five consultations.2 Furthermore, the survey found that nearly 72 percent of people with major depression did not believe, prior to their diagnosis, that painful physical symptoms, such as unexplained headaches, backache, gastrointestinal disturbance and vague aches and pains, were a common symptom of depression.2

“The findings of ‘Depression: The Painful Truth’ were really quite alarming and prompted us to take immediate action”, said Dr Franciosi, “At a multidisciplinary expert roundtable, we met with doctors and patient advocates from around the globe to reach a consensus on the gaps in physician and patient understanding of depression, especially low awareness of the painful physical symptoms associated with depression, and how best to address these problems. From this, ‘Breaking Through Barriers’ was brought to life.”

Depression is a common, devastating and complex illness, which is characterised by emotional as well as physical symptoms. The World Health Organization recently categorized depression as one of the most disabling diseases and estimates that 75 percent of people with depression never receive any treatment.3 Also, while most discussions of depression focus on its emotional symptoms, nearly 70 percent of primary care patients with major depression first present with only physical symptoms, such as tiredness, sleeping problems, back pain, headache.4

“The gap between high prevalence and low awareness of painful physical symptoms among people with depression is significant,” said Dr Marc-Antoine Crocq, Centre Hospitalier de Rouffach, France. “I am very confident that the ‘Breaking Through Barriers’ Action Plan will help educate patients, medical students and primary care professionals and improve the lives of the millions of Europeans suffering from this disease.”

About ‘Breaking Through Barriers’ Action Plan
The `Breaking Through Barriers` campaign will be a long-term campaign, comprised of a series of initiatives that will be rolled-out during 2006 and beyond. The campaign has been endorsed by:

* Prof. Michael Bauer (Charité – University Medicine Berlin, Germany)
* Gabriela Camara (Voz Pro Salud Mental, Mexico)
* Dr. Adriano Camargo (ABRATA, Brazil)
* Dr. Ricardo Colin (Instituto Nacional de Neurologia y Neurocirugia, Mexico)
* Dr. Vincenzo Costigliola (European Medical Association, Belgium)
* Dr. Marc-Antoine Crocq (Centre Hospitalier de Rouffach, France)
* Jean-Paul Dadu (Association France Dépression, France)
* Prof. Pedro Delgado (University of Texas, USA)
* Dr. Patt Franciosi/Preston Garrison (World Federation for Mental Health)
* Margit Golfels (TriaLogisch e.V. / Hilfe für psychisch Kranke Bonn/Rhein-Sieg e.V., Germany)
* Amelia Mustapha (Depression Association, Centre for Mental Health, UK)
* Prof. Robert Peveler (University of Southampton, UK)

About ‘Depression: The Painful Truth’ survey

* Harris Interactive®, an independent market research company, surveyed 377 people with diagnosed depression, 375 general practioners and 381 psychiatrists in five countries: Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Germany and France.
* Results of the ‘Depression: The Painful Truth’ survey and the ‘Breaking Through Barriers’ Action Plan are available at the World Federation for Mental Health.

About the WFMH
The WFMH is an international interdisciplinary membership organization whose mission is to promote, among all people and nations, the highest possible level of mental health in its broadest biological, medical, educational, and social aspect. Consultative status at the United Nations provides WFMH a variety of opportunities to engage in mental health advocacy at the global level, working closely with the World Health Organization, UNESCO, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Commission on Human Rights, the International Labor Organization and others.

About Eli Lilly and Company
Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of best-in-class pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers–through medicines and information–for some of the world`s most urgent medical needs.

About Boehringer Ingelheim
The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 144 affiliates in 45 countries and nearly 36,000 employees. Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel products of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.


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