Aware Ireland has launched a new online support groups service as part of its Depression Awareness Week.
The voluntary organisation’s campaign this year centres around the theme “Sometimes it’s easier to type than to talk,” which is reflected through this service.
The online support groups are confidential and offer a safe, supportive environment where people with depression or relatives of those suffering with depression can talk through their concerns and explore options available to them.
"We are very ambitious for this new online support groups service,” said Kevin Smyth, Aware’s chief executive.
“We know that there are a number of barriers which prevent some people from seeking help via more traditional methods: these include fear of face-to-face communication, difficulty expressing oneself vocally and distance from services.
“People can now benefit from peer support and learn coping skills for managing depression from the safety and comfort of their own home," said Smyth.
In 2009, the rate of suicides in Ireland was up 24pc from 2008. It is estimated that more than 400,000 people in Ireland experience depression at any one time.
Aware notes that stress and anxiety levels rise in recession times and, where other risk factors are present, this can lead to a depressive episode.
Aware’s online support groups service is available through its website.