London: New Scheme Uses ‘Talking Therapies’ Rather Than Drugs To Treat Mental Illness: UPDATED

2 Feb

A scheme has been launched to use ‘talking therapies’ rather than drugs to treat more than a million people who have mental health problems.

Talking, Not Drugs, To Treat Mental Problems: Click On Image To Play Video.

Currently drugs like Prozac are the primary treatment for depression – nearly 40 million prescriptions were issued last year.

But counselling is more effective than pills at fixing underlying causes of mental illness.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the strategy will give mental health the priority it deserves.

He said: “Speak to anyone. They will know someone who has had to deal with anxiety, depression, eating disorders or other problems.

“They are so often overlooked and ignored because there is a stigma attached to them compared to physical health problems. What I would like is that stigma removed.”

Asked about the view of Marjorie Wallace from the charity Sane, who said psychiatric beds, day centres and community services were being cut to save cash, Mr Clegg said she should not “only see the glass as half empty”.

“I think this is a big big step forward building on what I acknowledge is the good work done by the previous government on mental health to lift the stigma that has surrounded mental health for far too long,” he told Sky News.

He said children in particular needed the same level of support for mental health issues as they receive for physical illnesses

Such problems have beeen “brushed under the carpet”, he added.

Mental health problems affect one in four people and are the biggest reason for incapacity benefit claims. They cost the economy around £105bn a year.

The problems can start young – one in 10 children has a mental health problem.

Mitchell has ADHD, but his mother Vicky said psychological support had improved his behaviour.

“He was getting into a lot of trouble at school, not concentrating, not listening and so on,” she said.

“The treatment has really helped him out. He’s back in a mainstream school now.”

Mental health charity Mind welcomed the strategy, but chief executive Paul Farmer said it should be judged on results.

NEWS UPDATE:

The Government is to plough an extra £400 million into mental health provision in a bid to put it on an equal footing with physical health, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said.

£400m for mental health services Enlarge photo
 
Under its newly published mental health strategy, the coalition aims to treat mental health with the same priority and importance as physical health for the first time – and to combat the stigma attached to it. It will also stress the need for early intervention, to nip in the bud mental health problems in children.

Mr Clegg said: “For far too long we’ve allowed there to be a stigma attached to mental health. If you speak to people in the health service they say mental health has been treated as a Cinderella service.”

But he acknowledged that unemployment and other economic stresses could cause a rise in such problems.

Speaking on Daybreak, Mr Clegg said: “Today we are announcing that we are repealing an old-fashioned outdated law which means that MPs at the moment are disqualified from being MPs if they have a mental health problem which goes on for more than six months. It is a relatively symbolic thing because it has never been used – but it nonetheless shows that we are determined to root out that stigma.”

He said the Government was also providing more money to help veterans of conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan combat mental illness.

The cash being pumped into mental health provision under the new strategy will be extra money, he added, and would not just be shunted from another part of the health budget.

But Labour and some mental health charities cast doubt on the strategy, being launched as it is against a backdrop of cuts to other services. Shadow care minister Emily Thornberry accused the Government of being “far from clear” as to how it was going to achieve its aims.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the charity Sane, said: “Our concern…is that this ‘therapy for the nation’ strategy could be perceived as a panacea for the whole spectrum of mental health conditions, and is being launched against a background of serial closures of psychiatric beds, day centres, occupational therapy facilities and community services.

“We expect further cuts when health service savings start to bite. There are also worries that there will be confusion when GPs, some of whom may have limited specialist mental health knowledge, take the lead on commissioning services.”

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