Understanding depression: The bigger picture (9 May 2024)

The World Health Organisation has identified depression as a major form of suffering and loss of productivity worldwide. Millions of people are increasingly prescribed pharmaceutical products, with the distribution of this prescribing in England closely mapping areas of deprivation. 

Understanding Depression report, 2020

In 2020, the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology published an 'Understanding Depression' report which brought together research from psychology and other disciplines and, with input from people who have experienced depression, it challenges the common assumption that it is always best thought of as an illness.  

Depression is a common human experience that can be life-threatening. It deserves to be taken seriously and needs a compassionate response. Everyone’s experience is slightly different, as are the reasons for it. The report particularly emphasises the psychological aspects of depression, together with ideas about what can help both on an individual level and in terms of reducing the number of people affected. The report is primarily focused on the experience of depression in adults, although some factors will also be relevant for children, and childhood factors are often important in why people become depressed later in life. The report considers;

  • Experience or illness
  • Life events and circumstances 
  • Social inequalities 
  • Psycholigcally healthy environments 
  • Relationships
  • Helpful responses and therapies 
  • Personal meaning 
  • Collaborative formulations

Webinar overview

This webinar provides you an opportunity to hear from three of the report authors and an individual with lived experience to understand more about their perspective for greater recognition of the interpersonal, social and societal drivers and how we can intervene in some of these through psychological and social therapies and social action.  

You will be able to hear more about the report and the challenges around insufficient recognition of the contribution of life-events, social circumstances and societal factors (e.g., inequalities) to causing and maintaining depression.  

The deliverers aim to broaden awareness of social determinants in relation to depression which will impact understanding and formulation skills (where applicable). The webinar will also help you to seek a wider range of responses to depression. The perspectives encourage people to think about available therapy models and the importance of co-production.  

Date: 9 May 2024 

Time: 10.30 - 12.30 

Duration: Two hours 

This webinar is available in English only.  

It is being recorded and will be available for learners 12 weeks after the live session (until 1 August 2024) 

The webinar is available to book until 10:30am on 8 May 2024 


Learning outcomes 

By the end of this two-hour webinar, participants will:   

  • Better understand and be able to explain depression as described in the BPS Understanding Depression report, and be able to identify its relevance and impact in their lives and roles  

  • Be aware of a greater range of ways to respond to depression (with implications for anxiety and other mental health issues) and be equipped to begin implementing in their lives and roles 

  • If formulating is part of their role, they will understand more about how to include consideration of social environments and the operation of power in people’s lives and how to prioritise collaboration with service users and the service users’ social network with their consent 


Is this course right now me?

This webinar will be suitable for you if you;  

  • Want to better understand the key messages of the DCP Understanding Depression document 

  • Work in roles within, but not limited to, education, health and social care and other support roles 

  • Work in psychology based roles (including but not limited to Psychotherapists, clinical and counselling psychologists, educational, occupational and community psychologists). You may already have some training in depression but you may find value in learning more about the new perspective described in Understanding Depression 

  • Are at any stage of your career 

There are no pre-requisites in knowledge or experience to attend the webinar.


Webinar Presenters 

This webinar is being delivered by three of the co-authors of the DCP Understanding Depression guidance, in collaboration with Joe Tudor, founder of Reconnect Wellness Club. 

Dr Gillian Bowden, MBE, AFBPsS, C.Psychol 

Gillian worked in the NHS for more than 30 years. She mainly worked in adult mental health and primary care NHS settings and is an honorary senior lecturer with the University of East Anglia where she taught on the Clinical Psychology training programme. Gillian is interested in coproduced approaches to service delivery that engage with people in the context of their communities, and she now supports a Social Enterprise community club which offers services to people who experience depression. She is also interested in wellbeing at work and how people manage demanding aspects of work and which factors they find rewarding or protective against stress. Gillian was awarded an MBE for services to mental health in Norfolk in 2009. Gillian is a British Wheel of Yoga recently qualified yoga teacher. 

Dr Sue Holttum, PhD, AFBPsS, C.Psychol 

Sue works four days per week at the Salomons Institute for Applied Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University, and one day per week at the British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT). During her PhD on the psychology of depression), Sue drew on her own earlier experience of severe depression and receiving treatment in the mental health system, as well as beginning to get acquainted with a broad and ever-increasing research literature. Sue supervises doctoral research projects on a range of topics from art therapy to staff wellbeing and mental health treatment and recovery. Sue works with Experts by Experience at Salomons on research consultation. Sue’s work with art therapists has most recently involved leading on the research underpinning new BAAT guidelines on art therapy for people with a psychosis-related diagnosis. Sue wrote a regular Research Watch feature for the journal Mental Health and Social Inclusion for over 10 years, winning awards. 

Dr Rashmi Shankar, C.Psychol 

Rashmi Shankar is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and a Chartered Psychologist. She holds academic degrees from the University of Delhi (India) and she qualified as a clinical psychologist in the UK before completing the DPhil research on the psychosis spectrum at the University of Oxford (Experimental Psychology). Within the NHS Rashmi’s clinical psychology practice has spanned over 30 years and she is the Clinical Lead for psychological therapies services within the locality CMHT, where she offers psychological assessment and therapy (for anxiety and depression presentations) and supervises applied psychology and medical trainees. Rashmi has a special interest in Cultural Adaptations in CBT (CA CBT) and she has pioneered the delivery of clinical psychology assessments and CACBT interventions in a multi-lingual context (English, Hindi and Urdu). Additionally, a programme of Bilingual Outreach sessions on stress, anxiety and depression offered to local minority ethnic community organizations remained popular. Rashmi has taught on the Oxford Doctoral Course in Clinical Psychology and on doctoral training programmes at (Southampton, Bath and Cardiff). Rashmi has delivered talks at international events and is the CBT Course Tutor for medical trainees within her employing Trust.  

Joe Tudor

When Joe was 25, he had a job in sales and spent most of his free time playing football or in the pub with his mates. Joe his friends and family felt that something wasn't right, so he went to his GP who diagnosed ‘Clinical Depression’.  Joe’s GP said his depression was caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain and prescribed medication. The medical approach only made things worse for Joe. Joe eventually met an amazing therapist through the NHS who helped him to understand his depression within the context of his life. Joe felt like he had to be a detective, searching around for clues that would help him feel better. During this period, Joe had a vision for the type of place and support he wanted to receive but couldn’t find it. in 2020 Joe set about researching his idea and was helped by over 1,000 UK adults who completed an anonymous online survey that Joe created. When Joe came across the BPS’ ‘Understanding Depression’ report, he felt it spoke to his own experience and to the findings of his survey. Joe has been working ever since to create Reconnect, alongside Gillian. Reconnect is in the very early stages of development with encouraging results from research of the pilot.


Price: £50.00 (+ VAT)  
Members: £30.00 (+ VAT)

In addition to the site policies this course is subject to additional terms and conditions.


Booking on behlaf of an organisation?

If you or your colleagues are looking to book onto this course as a group you can make savings by booking ten or more places. To find out more about our packages contact cpd@bps.org.uk 



If your organisation prefers invoicing over online payment that's no problem. We can invoice you for five or more purchases or if your purchase is for more than £250. 

Take a look at our guidance to support the process.  

In order to request an invoice please send a Purchase Order to cpd@bps.org.uk. This should include, the course title, names and contact details and BPS Membership status (where applicable) for each participant. We will issue an invoice, once paid your learners will be provided with details of how to access their learning.  

Packages for BPS Accredited education providers 

We can arrange special packages for our partners at BPS Accredited education providers so that you can offer further learning to your students and colleagues. Contact cpd@bps.org.uk to find out more. 


In addition to the site policies this course is subject to additional terms and conditions. If you wish to cancel your place, we are unable to issue refunds 14 days or less prior to the webinar date.



This webinar has been organised by BPS Professional Development. You can contact us at cpd@bps.org.uk 

You may also be interested in our other courses on BPS Learn, including those related to mental health and wellbeing and your personal development. 

You can also explore the range of BPS books available via Routledge.