NICE launches quality standard for depression

NICE has launched the quality standard for depression (which can be found on the NICE website – NICE quality standards are a set of specific, concise statements that act as markers of high-quality, clinical and cost-effective patient care, covering the treatment and prevention of different diseases and conditions. They are developed independently by NICE, in collaboration with the NHS and social care professionals, their partners and service users, and address three dimensions of quality: clinical effectiveness, patient safety and patient experience.

NICE quality standards enable:

  • health and social care professionals to make decisions about care based on the latest evidence and best practice;
  • patients to understand what service they can expect from their health and social care providers;
  • NHS Trusts to quickly and easily examine the clinical performance of their organisation and assess the standards of care they provide;
  • commissioners to be confident that the services they are providing are high quality and cost effective.

According to NICE, depression currently affects about one in six people in the UK at some stage in their lives, and is more common in women (Office of National Statistics). It may have no obvious cause, or it can be triggered by physical illness or difficult things that have happened in the past or may be happening now, like bereavement, family problems or unemployment.

The quality standard on depression identifies 13 statements that define high quality care. These include:

  • ensuring that people who may have depression receive an assessment that identifies the severity of symptoms, the degree of associated functional impairment and the duration of the episode;
  • reviewing treatment plans for people with depression who haven’t responded adequately to initial treatment within six to eight weeks;
  • ensuring that practitioners delivering pharmacological, psychological or psychosocial interventions for people with depression receive regular supervision that ensures they are competent in delivering interventions of appropriate content and duration in accordance with NICE guidance.

Employers also need to be educated about depression in the workplace so they are aware of what depression is and how it can be treated. Understanding and knowledge of mental health issues will help employers to respond confidently to staff who come to them in distress. Employers will need to consider making workplace adjustments to support employees with depression in the workplace or returning to work, and staff need to know that flexibility exists within the workplace. The Adviceline advisers can offer guidance on practicable workplace adjustments, and help for employers who are supporting employees who want to balance depression and work. Lines are open during normal office hours (0800 0 77 88 44). A call-back form can be found on the Health for Work Adviceline website (

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