Depression forum well attended

DEPRESSION proved a drawcard for a large and diverse audience in Coffs Harbour on Wednesday.

About 600 people packed the auditorium of the Coffs Harbour Ex-Services Club for a public forum on depression and its effects.

Speaker Bea Ballangarry spoke about her journey as the carer of a daughter battling mental illness and John Brogden spoke about his own experience of depression and attempted suicide.

Neurophysicist Rick van der Zwan, who wants to see mental illnesses regarded as physical conditions, gave an overview of the structure of the brain and the neurotransmitters which pass messages between body and brain.

The addresses were followed by questions, with queries including the frequency of medication reviews for depression; and how people could be taken from their home and put in hospital against their will.

John Brogden said he had never spoken to such a large audience on such a topic. He followed his keynote address and panel answers by listening to individual stories and referring them on to services represented with stalls at the Forum.

The general manager of Lifeline North Coast, Kath Lindsay won her bet with Coffs City Rotarian and organiser Trevor Brentnall on the number of people who would attend, guessing 500.

Yesterday she said she knew the need in the region, because many of the calls received by Lifeline were about mental illness and the forum had been 'the talk of the town', but the number had exceeded her expectations.

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