An introduction to Barnet Depression Alliance Self-Help Group 

This is just to give you a brief outline of who we are, what we do and how we run. Hopefully it will help you to decide whether the group would suit you and to give you some idea as to what to expect when you come for the first time.

Who we are
We are one of over 50 self-help groups previously supported by the national mental health charity Mind but now running as an independent, not-for-profit voluntary organisation. We were originally part of the charity Depression Alliance which merged with Mind in August 2016. We are financially assisted by Barnet Council.  We have been meeting in Barnet for 25 years (since 1997), with the sole aim of providing support for fellow sufferers of depression. The emphasis is on self-help and the group is not a therapy group. All members of the group, including the group organisers, have suffered from depression.

Where and when we meet
Our meeting format has changed over recent months due to the Covid restrictions. Throughout this period, we met regularly online.  We are now holding one in-person meeting a month on a Tuesday evening in North Finchley, and one online meeting a month on a Monday evening via Zoom. In addition, we also run a programme of social activities. The full timetable of meetings is given in our newsletter which we normally issue three times a year. If you would like to attend a meeting please contact us first so that we can  have a chat with you and send you a newsletter and a copy of our group guidelines. You can contact by phone, email or via this website.

What we do
Our meetings vary in their format. Our face-to-face meetings often feature a talk / discussion with a guest speaker or one of our members, or a video or some other planned activity — for example, we recently had a creative writing workshop. We break for refreshments half way through the meeting and then reconfigure in small groups for “check in” which is a time where each member who wants to, can talk about how they are feeling and discuss general issues around how she or he is coping with depression. There is no pressure on anyone to speak if they do not want to.

At our online meetings the entire time is devoted to “check-in” with a short comfort break in the middle. We also have a social programme so that members have a chance to get to know each other better in a more informal setting. For example we have a regular New Year meal at a restaurant in January, and a “bring and share” supper party in the summer. We also have walks, coffee mornings and theatre/cinema outings.

Resources provided by the group
Newsletter:  We email or post our newsletter three times a year which gives full details of forthcoming meetings and socials, and other information of interest on depression and related areas, with particular emphasis on events and resources available in Barnet.

Email list: we also operate an email list where we send members meeting reminders and updates. We also send out other relevant items of interest some of which relate to events in Barnet or news items about depression. Emails are sent using blind copy and members can opt in or out of the email list at any time.

Group library: We have a small library of books, articles, and leaflets on depression and related subjects which regular attendees are welcome to borrow. We ask people to borrow one item at a time and record the item in the signing out book on borrowing and returning items.

Low-cost counselling list: Barnet DA produces and updates a list of low-cost counselling resources available in and near Barnet. If you would like a copy, we can supply you with a paper copy or a copy by email.  The full list of resources together with brochures from the relevant organisations is available from our library. We also have a list of CBT resources available online

How the group is run
The group is led by a group organiser with the help of a small committee of longstanding group members.  Group organisers have been vetted by the former charity Depression Alliance (now merged with Mind) and have been DBS checked. The group is supported financially by Barnet Council and by its members who give a voluntary contribution.

Confidentiality policy
Within the group we emphasise the importance of complete confidentiality. No personal information that is shared within the group should be repeated to anyone outside.  Members’ names, addresses and ‘phone numbers are held by the group organiser and may be seen only by the organiser and committee. We never give out any personal details without permission from the person concerned. However, in very exceptional circumstances group members may breach confidentiality if there is an immediate risk of serious harm occurring to someone. If you have any such concerns please discuss this with the group organisers. In this eventuality we would also make every effort to discuss these concerns with the group member first.

Joining the group
The group is open to any adult (18+) who lives in Barnet and suffers from clinical depression. We regret we cannot accommodate carers at our meetings. We cover a broad age range from early 20’s to 70’s +. Please note that the group is not a drop-in group — we do need to speak to you first and then arrange to send you an information pack.

Support for newcomers and coming along for the first time
We do appreciate how very difficult it can be to walk into a room of strangers for the first time, particularly if you are feeling depressed and anxious. It is for this reason that we offer to meet newcomers one-to-one before the face-to-face meetings if this would be helpful.  For the Zoom meetings newcomers are invited to join us 15 minutes early if they would like to do so. Otherwise feel free to join us at the start of the meeting. You will be made very welcome and we hope you will find some solace in finding yourself in the company of people who won’t judge you and who know first-hand what it is like to experience depression and anxiety.  Please feel free to phone or email us if you have any queries. We do hope that you will find the group helpful and we look forward to seeing you at a meeting soon.

Page last updated 9 September 2022