Objective: To evaluate whether a campaign to increase public knowledge about depression (beyondblue: the national depression initiative) has influenced the Australian public's ability to recognize depression and their beliefs about treatments.
Method: Data from national surveys of mental health literacy in 1995 and 2003-04 were analysed to see if states and territories which funded beyondblue (the high exposure states) had greater change than those that did not (the low exposure states). In both surveys, participants were asked what was wrong with a person in a depression case vignette and to give opinions about the likely helpfulness for this person of a range of treatments. In the 2003-04 survey participants were also asked questions to assess awareness of beyondblue.
Results: Awareness of beyondblue in the states that provided funding was found to be around twice the level of those that did not. Using the low-exposure states as a control, the high-exposure states had greater change in beliefs about some treatments, particularly counselling and medication, and about the benefits of help-seeking in general. Recognition of depression improved greatly at a national level, but slightly more so in the high-exposure states.
Conclusions: The data are consistent with beyondblue having had a positive effect on some beliefs about depression treatment.