SOURCE: Sharecare; WCG

Sharecare; WCG

December 14, 2011 08:00 ET

SharecareNow Names the Top 10 Influencers in the Online Depression Community

ATLANTA, GA and SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - Dec 14, 2011) - In an effort to identify the most influential health and wellness voices online, SharecareNow, powered by WCG, today announced "SharecareNow 10 - Depression" to recognize the most prominent online influencers that positively impact the lives of millions of Americans who suffer from depression.

The release of SharecareNow 10 - Depression coincides with the nationally recognized Seasonal Depression Awareness Month, which takes place every December to increase awareness for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that affects half a million people every winter, peaking in December, January and February.1 Episodes of SAD typically occur during this time due to the reduced amount of sunlight, shorter days, and possible loneliness during the holiday months. The symptoms for SAD include feelings of sadness, sluggishness, lack of motivation, withdrawal from social activities, increased appetite and changes in sleep patterns.2

"Among all psychiatric illnesses, depression is highly responsive to treatment, which is why it is important that patients, their families and caregivers have easy access to reliable online information about mental health," said Ellen R. Mercer, Vice President for Program Development of the World Federation for Mental Health. "That's why we support SharecareNow's initiative to identify the top influencers in the online depression community who help increase mental health awareness and provide patients with the potentially life-saving support they need."

According to the World Federation for Mental Health, depression can take many different forms and affect people of all ages, races, religions and incomes worldwide. In fact, in the U.S. alone, an estimated 1 in 10 American adults report that they experience some degree of depression.3

Studies show that depression is two to three times more common in women, as well as increased in people that have a family history of the condition, are exposed to violence, are suffering from other chronic diseases, or are economically or socially disadvantaged. Furthermore, individuals with depression are more at risk for other disorders, including suicide, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, heart disease, stroke, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes.4

"Depression is a serious and complex illness in our country that can lead to deadly consequences. Many people don't know what it looks like or how to help those silently suffering from this disease, especially during the winter months when seasonal depression is on the rise and people are looking for answers about the causes for certain behavioral changes," said Jeff Arnold, chairman and chief architect of Sharecare. "By bringing the most influential people in the field to light, it further exemplifies our commitment to elevating awareness about the severity of certain health conditions, connecting people to credible resources, and providing key actionable information that can lead people to appropriate treatment options."

In order to be included in the SharecareNow 10 - Depression list, influencers must have demonstrated a consistent impact on mental health-specific conversations online over the past year. The individuals' influence is measured and quantified through a proprietary algorithm based on more than 40 individual metrics, including mental health relevance, syndication, presence and reach. These individuals are then ranked from most to least influential based on a unique scoring structure.

The following top influencers make up the SharecareNow 10 - Depression list:
1. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, MSW, LCSW, BCD, Julie Hanks
2. Natasha Tracy, Breaking Bipolar
3. Therese J. Borchard, World of Psychology
4. Chato B. Stewart, Mental Health Humor
5. Nancy Schimelpfening, About.com - Depression
6. Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, Psychology Today
7. Marcia Purse, About.com - Bipolar Disorder
8. Rick Nauert, PhD, Psych Central
9. Jack Smith, Coping With Depression
10. Michael Friedman, LMSW, The Huffington Post

A downloadable version of the SharecareNow 10 - Depression list can be found here: http://www.sharecare.com/static/sharecare-now-depression-graphic. Additional information, including bios and the methodology behind the influencer list, is available at http://now.sharecare.com.

In support of raising awareness for depression, licensed therapists on Sharecare will open their profile walls throughout the remainder of December to engage with Sharecare members and answer their mental health questions. To participate in this open wall event, sign-up here: http://www.sharecare.com/static/sharecare-now-depression.

About SharecareNow, powered by WCG
SharecareNow, powered by WCG was developed in partnership with Sharecare, an interactive social Q&A platform, and WCG, a market-leading digital communications agency. Sharecare Now, powered by WCG is an online platform developed to access real-time analytics on various health topics, conversations and influencers, and to use these insights to meaningfully impact the conversation through strategic engagement. The platform allows health and wellness professionals, organizations and brands to leverage the most accurate data, solutions and best practices to participate in the social service of expert health and wellness content and communities.

About World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH)
WFMH was founded in 1948 to advance, among all peoples and nations, the prevention of mental and emotional disorders, the proper treatment and care of those with such disorders, and the promotion of mental health. The Federation, through its members and contacts in more than 100 countries on six continents, has responded to international mental health crises through its role as the only worldwide grassroots advocacy and public education organization in the mental health field.

About Sharecare
Launched in 2010 and based in Atlanta, GA, Sharecare's mission is to greatly simplify the search for high-quality healthcare information and answer the world's questions of health. Created by Jeff Arnold and Dr. Mehmet Oz, in partnership with Harpo Studios, HSW International (NASDAQ: HSWI), Sony Pictures Television, and Discovery Communications, the Sharecare interactive social Q & A platform allows people to ask, learn and act upon questions of health and wellness. The company's innovative approach provides a wide array of expert answers to each question ranging from hospitals to MDs to non-profits to healthcare companies to active health consumers, ultimately creating a community where healthcare knowledge is built, shared and put into practice.

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About WCG
Led by Chairman and CEO Jim Weiss, WCG is an independent company focused on integrated corporate and product marketing and communications for some of the world's leading companies, with offices in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Austin and London. Over the past 10 years, WCG has received numerous industry awards, including "2011 Digital Agency of the Year," and "Healthcare Agency of the Year" twice. WCG currently works with more than 60 of the top healthcare brands worldwide, from pharmaceuticals and medical devices to overall corporate presence. The company's seasoned professionals specialize in social media analytics, online strategy, branding, design, digital and traditional marketing, corporate and product PR, media, investor and advocacy relations, clinical trial recruitment and grassroots direct-to-patient communications campaigns.

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1 Mental Health America. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). http://www.nmha.org/go/sad. 2011.

2 U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed Health. Seasonal affective disorder. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002499/. March 2011.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data & Statistics: Depression. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsDepression/. March 2011.

4 World Federation for Mental Health. Depression: What You Know Can Help You - International Perspectives on Depression for People Living with Depression and Their Families. http://www.wfmh.org/2010DOCS/DEPRESSION%20AWARENESS%20PACKET%20ENGLISH%202010.pdf. 2010.

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