Conference addresses critical issue of depression in adults

    CALGARY, Oct. 15 /CNW/ - Experts from across Alberta and Canada have
gathered in Calgary today for a three-day conference to discuss and develop
recommendations on improving the mental health of those who experience major
depression - a condition for which 200,000 Albertans consult a physician every
year. The Consensus Development Conference on Depression in Adults: How to
Improve Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment - is being held at The Westin
Calgary downtown until Friday.
    "Providing effective programs and treatment for depression and other
mental illnesses is a priority for health policy makers and providers," Health
Minister Ron Liepert said in a message to conference participants. "I commend
the Institute of Health Economics, the Alberta Depression Initiative project,
Alberta Health Services-Alberta Mental Health Board and the Mental Health
Commission of Canada for organizing this conference and working toward a
consensus on practical ways to address the critical issue of depression in our

    During the conference experts will look at:
    -   what depression is and how common it is
    -   how it impacts sufferers, family, and society
    -   risk factors and improving prevention
    -   diagnosing depression
    -   current treatments
    -   obstacles to managing depression and how to overcome them
    -   what further research is needed

    "I welcome the opportunity to help determine what needs to be done in
Canada to turn things around: to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment
for depression," said Michael Kirby, the conference's Jury Chair. "The Mental
Health Commission of Canada is delighted to partner with the Institute of
Health Economics and bring so many key people together to look at the research
and to find solutions."
    Following the first two days of the conference, a panel of experts will
develop the consensus statement which will be read publicly by Michael Kirby
at the conclusion of the event Friday morning. This statement will provide a
number of recommendations to help provide future direction in diagnostic and
treatment policies and practices across the country.

    Several noted individuals will participate in the conference including:
    -   The Honourable Michael Kirby, Chair, Mental Health Commission of
    -   Shelagh Rogers, CBC radio host
    -   Dr. Scott Patten, UofC researcher
    -   Dr. Glenda MacQueen, Head, Department of Psychiatry, UofC

    Conference partners are the Institute of Health Economics, Alberta Health
Services-Alberta Mental Health Board, and the Mental Health Commission of
Canada, with support from the Alberta Depression Initiative.


    What is a consensus development conference?

    Consensus development conferences have a unique format much like court
hearings which generate a consensus statement that may be of use in health
policy and practice. The conference involves 12 - 18 experts who deliver the
scientific evidence around 5 - 8 specific questions on a health subject to a
jury of the same number of people. The format is an independent look at issues
from an unbiased jury who gets in depth presentations of available evidence
from recognized experts on the topic during two days of hearings. Periods of
testimonial input from the audience (usually 200 - 300 people) including the
general public are invited. The panel takes this all into consideration in a
"sequestered" period and renders its recommendations in a consensus statement.
That statement is read by the jury chair for the experts and the audience, and
then widely disseminated across the Canadian health-care system to be
considered in health policy and practice.

    Key facts on depression

    -   It is estimated nearly 3 million Canadians will experience depression
        in their lifetime. (Canadian Mental Health Association)
    -   Women experience depression twice as often as men.
    -   Most often depression affects people in their working years, between
        the ages of 25 and 44.
    -   Two thirds of people who experience depression do not seek treatment.
    -   By 2020 the World Health Organization estimates depression will be
        the No.2 cause of "lost years of healthy life worldwide."
    -   Depression is one of the leading causes of lost productivity,
        absenteeism and disability in the workplace.
    -   A recent study found about 80% of workers believe a person diagnosed
        with depression would keep the fact secret to avoid damaging their
        future opportunities at work and nearly half believe someone missing
        work because of depression would be more likely "to get into trouble
        or maybe even fired." (Ipsos Reid, February 2007)

For further information:

For further information: Rhonda Lothammer, Institute of Health
Economics, Cell: (780) 935-0382

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