It’s Blue Monday on January 16th – Help Nottingham mental health researchers fight the blues

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A team of researchers from the University of Nottingham is appealing for people in Nottinghamshire who experience depression and low mood to help them to assess the effectiveness of two online mental health support tools.

Blue Monday, which this year is Monday 16 January, is branded by some as the most depressing day of the year – the start of a working week in the middle of winter with Christmas behind us and warm weather and the holiday season far ahead.

But the team of experts from the Institute of Mental Health say it’s a good opportunity to get involved in some real research which could have a beneficial effect on the people taking part.

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The REBOOT study has been set up to evaluate two online support tools for mild to moderate low mood or depression, and also for anxiety. The aim of the research is to see whether an online peer support website called Big White Wall is more or less effective in helping people with depression and anxiety than the freely available online information from the NHS called Moodzone.

Researcher Mat Rawsthorne said: “As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I know how hard it can be to navigate the system and find good advice. I also know that I am not alone in that, and fellow travellers can help each other.

“With all the information available on the web, knowing where to turn for help when you are feeling stressed or down can be an extra challenge. Being pointed in the right direction and meeting others in the same boat can both help, but we don’t know whether this is true for everyone.

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“With growing waiting lists and the expectation of a 24-7 NHS, this study is very important as more people turn to the internet as a way to access support. It will help us figure out what online resources add to other forms of care but we need as many participants as possible and as wide a range of people to check this.”

Professor of Psychiatry Richard Morriss said: “Depression and anxiety affects 15% (one in 7) of the adult population of Nottinghamshire at this time. Only a quarter of these people get any help from the NHS. Surveys tell us that many people would like information and the chance to talk to, get and give help to others who also have depression, anxiety or stress.

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“REBOOT enables people to do this using the internet but without having to make an appointment to see anyone or give personal information that you do not want others to find out.”

The research team says the REBOOT website is secure, gives participants feedback regularly on how they are doing and will be available 24/7 for 6 months. It provides everyone with a chance of getting one of two different ways of getting support using a process similar to flipping a coin.

People taking part will either be part of a community giving support to each other or they will get information and share their views with others. In either case participants do not give their name or personal details to other people as happens on social media such as Facebook.

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Unlike other internet programmes, these two approaches aim to improve mental well-being for people with symptoms of depression or anxiety rather than just give general advice.

People interested in joining the study can register via the REBOOT website at www.rebootnotts.com

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