Mental Health Treatment: Is The NHS Letting You Down?by Dr Emma Gray - 12th June, 2012
There are more people on capacity benefits due to mental health problems than the total number of unemployed people on job seekers allowance. By 2030 depression will be the world’s most common illness according to the World Health Organisation.
As evidence suggests that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is currently the most effective treatment available for a range of mental health problems (in particular depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders) it is recommended as the treatment of choice by The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and therefore the government. Over the last 2 years the government have spent £103 million funding the IAPTs programme (Improving Access to Psychological Therapy), the most recent initiate aimed to deliver psychological therapy (in particular Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to the 6 million people in the UK who currently suffer from common mental health problems. In 2011 an additional £70 million has been ear marked bringing the total to £173 million. However, it is estimated that this will only lead to treatment for 50 per cent of sufferers on the NHS.
For the remaining 3 million, and this can only be an overestimation of the figures as this number is based only on those people who have sought professional help, the prognosis is bleak. Medication, the prescription of which is more often than not trial and error, will only mask symptoms and often is accompanied by unpleasant side effects the main reason that people stop taking antidepressants. Talking Therapies and the people that offer them are rarely regulated in the private sector, leading often to the exacerbation of symptoms at the hands of someone who is not qualified and lacks the experience to manage what are often life threatening problems: in the UK over 5000 people commit suicide each year; at least 19,000 children attempt suicide – one every half hour; suicide is the number one cause of death for males aged 18-24.
The 2010 Spending Review presented to Parliament on 20.10.10 makes it clear there are going to be difficult times ahead in the UK. This will undoubtedly lead to an increase in the prevalence of distress in the population. Although the NHS is going to be spared the level of cuts that other government departments face the burden on this already overstretched service is going to be considerable.