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Depressing Professions

Beaton Consulting and beyondblue: the national depression initiative this week released data on depression in the professions. The survey, designed by beyondblue, was integrated into Beaton Consulting's 2007 Annual Professions Study. The survey was conducted in November 2006. There were 17,183 responses to the beyondblue section of the survey, of which 7551 were professionals. The sample also contained a significant proportion of tertiary students, who at the time of the survey were members of professional associations.

Results from a survey of over 7,500 Australian professionals indicated higher than average levels of depressive symptoms when compared with the general Australian population. These higher rates of depression were consistently found across all age groups with law and patent attorney professions recording highest symptoms. A significant proportion of survey respondents also indicated that they used alcohol or other (non-prescription) drugs to manage symptoms of depression with the highest level found for law firms and actuarial firms. The current findings expose the apparent lack of understanding about depression and its management by many professionals.

Some explanations of the above findings regarding the law profession were provided by a representative of NSW Young Lawyers who said ‘the reality of working in a law firm is often very different to what most young lawyers expect’. A CEO of a law firm said ‘law firms also have performance standards which are very high and there are people on the other side trying to make you make mistakes’. The survey summary can be downloaded at http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?link_id=9.234&tmp=FileDownload&fid=708 Details of the beyondblue Depression in the Workplace Program can be obtained at http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?link_id=4.66

Posted Wednesday, 25 April 2007

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