Every year the Alan J Flisher Centre for Public Mental Health invites a speaker in the field of mental health in honour of the Centre’s founder, Prof Alan J Flisher. This year, Pim Cuijpers, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (the Netherlands), and Head of the Department of Clinical, Neuro and Developmental Psychology presented the annual lecture. He spoke on the topic of “Medication or psychotherapy in the treatment of depression? Current evidence and public health implications.”
After being welcomed and introduced by Assoc. Prof Katherine Sorsdahl, who is the CPMH Co-Director, Prof Cuijpers delivered an engaging presentation on his findings with regards to the difference between psychotherapy and medication in the treatment for major depression disorder. He stated that even though the prevalence of depression is quite stable, the number of people with depression will increase due to population changes. This makes it a public health issue to address.
Some of his research results included findings that a treatment format isn’t related to the treatment outcome as long as the therapist/coach is involved and also that lay counsellors may just be as effective. His research has shown that despite evidence-based treatments (including psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy) available and well developed, the burden of disease remain high. He suggested that the approach to addressing this burden of disease should be less divided and that there should be more collaboration between disciplines. He also mentioned the importance of data-sharing so that there can be progress based on existing research rather that repetition. Prof Cuijpers further suggested that implementation science in low- and middle-income countries still poses significant challenges to addressing this public health challenge.
You can access his presentation in which he suggests a variety of future research directions here.