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 40 self help groups originally affiliated to the national charity Depression Alliance.  We have been meeting in Barnet for over 25 years ( we begun in January 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. On August 1st 2016 Depression Alliance merged with the mental health charity Mind. We are now supported by Mind. However there will be no change to our name or to the work we do in Barnet.

Venue (in person and online meetings)
Our group meets twice a month  — with our main meeting being held  in North Finchley on at Tuesday evening, and a second meeting held online via Zoom on a Monday evening. We also hold regular socials.  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.

Format of meetings
Our meetings vary in their format. They 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 tea half way through the meeting and then regroup 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 or join in if they do not want to.

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 and theatre/cinema outings.

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 organiser or Depression Alliance staff now working for Mind, in the first instance. In this eventuality we would also make every effort to discuss these concerns with the group member first.

Group library
We have a small group library of books, articles, magazines and videos on depression and related subjects which members are welcome to borrow. There is also a wide range of free literature which can be taken away.

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 currently have over 60 people on our mailing list, with approximately 15-20 people attending most meetings. We cover a broad age range from early 20’s to 70’s +.

There is no membership fee but we do ask for a small contribution (suggested donation £2) from members to cover the costs of refreshments at meetings.

Support for newcomers
We understand that some newcomers may feel anxious about attending their first meeting. Anyone who is new to the group and would like to speak to one of us one-to-one before a meeting, please let us know. Alternatively, you can just turn up between 7 pm and 7:20 pm and you will always find someone at the venue to welcome you, talk to you about the group and introduce you to other members. Please don’t let anxiety keep you from coming along. Likewise, newcomers to online meetings are also welcome to attend early for a chat before the meeting commences. We hope you will feel at ease in the company of people who understand depression and who don’t judge. There is no pressure to talk at the meeting if you don’t feel like it.

Group organisers
The group is run by a group facilitator who has been vetted by the former national charity Depression Alliance with help from a committee of five longstanding group members. The group facilitator and committee have also been DBS checked. The group is supported financially by Barnet Council and is now supported by the national charity Mind following Depression Alliance’s merger with Mind in August 2016.

Page last updated on 01/04/2022