A Guide to Self-help Resources for Depression and Anxiety: A Practitioners' Resource: Doing Well by People with Depression

An interactive guide on self-help resources for depression and other common mental health issues for use by practitioners


About this Guide

Self-help is a very general term and covers a wide range of approaches that people use to improve how they feel. This guide concentrates on providing a resource pool of self-help materials for people in 'helping professions' who are involved in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate depression and other common mental health issues.

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The guide makes use of a range of written and other materials that use an evidence-based approach. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence ( NICE) cites guided self-help as an evidence based approach to the treatment of mild to moderate depression in its guideline for Depression.

This is a prototype edition of this resource. Further editions will be greatly enhanced if users of this edition complete and return the Feedback Questionnaire.

How this guide was developed

This guide was developed as part of the Doing Well by People with Depression Programme, which aims to build the capacity for self help to better meet the needs of those with mild to moderate depression. There exists a confusing array of self help materials available on the market, so a working party of clinicians involved in the Doing Well Programme undertook the task of reviewing a variety of these materials with regard to suitability and effectiveness in the treatment of mild to moderate psychological problems. Upon review, the materials fell into four distinct categories - described as 'Levels' depending on the 'level' of intervention offered by the individual resources. Levels 1 to 3 are included in this guide and are described on page 4. Level 4 is known as 'guided' self-help and is not within the scope of this document. However, it will be subject of further review and comment at a later stage in the Doing Well Programme.

All materials were evaluated against a list of 'inclusion criteria' drawn up as part of this exercise. ( Appendix A)

The production of this guide was also influenced by research studies that found that 1

(a) of 2,311 general practitioners in Scotland, who responded to a postal study nearly 9 out of 10 thought a holistic approach was essential in delivering high quality care (Mercer et al 2002)

(b) 78% of GPs have prescribed an antidepressant in the last three years despite believing that an alternative treatment might have been more appropriate.

  • 66% have done so because a suitable alternative was not available
  • 62% because there was a waiting list for the suitable alternative
  • 33% because the patient requested anti depressants
  • 60% of GPs surveyed would prescribe anti depressants less frequently if other options were available to them (Mental Health Foundation 2005)

Who is it for?

This guide is an easy-to-use resource for use by anyone working in the 'helping professions' who comes into contact with people with mild to moderate common mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.

How is it to be used?

It is envisaged that the guide be used as part of a care package for people with psychological issues. The toolkit can be flexible in its use and is designed to be used with people who are experiencing a range of depressive symptoms of varying severity. The information and materials in each level can be used alone or in combination as part of any individualised care package. They can also be used individually and together with medication treatments when these are appropriate.

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