The Depression Alliance has teamed up with former footballer Stan Collymore to launch ‘Friends in Need’ a new online and offline community designed to end the loneliness associated with depression.

Radio pundit Collymore has spoken frequently about his own experiences of depression and said more needs to be done to tackle the isolation associated with the illness after a new Depression Alliance survey showed 86% of those with the condition feel "unable to share experiences".

The Depression Alliance’s survey shows that almost half of UK adults (45%) have experienced depression, twice as many as the routinely quoted figure of one in four people. Yet the vast majority of those find it "impossible" to access others with the condition despite the availability of peer support as a route to recovery.

Collymore said that he encountered similar issues when he began speaking out about his condition. "'Friends In Need' is an important initiative," he said.

"When I spoke out in 1998 I understood fully that depression is a very isolating illness. You can be around friends, you can be around family, and if they don't understand exactly what you're going through it can actually exacerbate issues and matters and make them worse."

Watch Collymore introduce the new Friends in Need initiative:

The Friends in Need Community has been designed to be a safe and positive space for members to connect with people who understand what they are going through and to share knowledge and coping mechanisms with others. It will allow members to chat online, meet up in groups, take part in activities and attend local events.

Emer O’Neill, CEO of Depression Alliance, said: "This survey clearly demonstrates that to maintain recovery from depression people need to have access to other people with the condition.

"The loneliness and isolation that come with depression can have a devastating impact on people from all walks of life. This can be a particular problem for men who often do not have the same social support networks that women have. Fortunately, thanks to the fantastic practical support from Stan and others, we have been able to meet this challenge head on and create Friends in Need.

“People with depression can benefit greatly from connecting with others through social groups and activities. Talking to other people experiencing similar feelings, whether it is online or offline can provide people with different tactics to manage their depression and help them on the road to recovery and maintaining wellbeing.”

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