Warning over ‘talking’ therapies

A London PR agency has expressed concern over a government plan to spend millions more on ‘talking treatments’ for depression and anxiety in England.

Johnson: a choice of treatment
Johnson: a choice of treatment

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has said by 2010, £170m a year would be spent – allowing 900,000 more people to be treated with psychological therapies. These are as effective as drugs, says the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence.

But Neil McGregor-Paterson, MD at Chandler Chicco Agency, warned the ann­ouncement should not rule out the use of drugs.

‘An expansion of psychological therapies must not be used as an excuse for reducing prescribing,’ he said. ‘The challenge for both industry and the Department of Health [DoH] will be to ensure that doctors and patients have access to all the relevant information to support them in making an objective decision on the best management approach.’

Pharma firm Eli Lilly, manufacturer of anti-depressant Cymbalta, claimed it was not concerned by the announcement. Comms manager Nick Francis said: ‘Talking therapies have their place, as does medication. It is important for doctors to choose the most appropriate form of treatment. Anything that raises the profile of mental health in the industry is a good thing.’

A spokesman for the DoH said the department would be ramping up its comms in the wake of Johnson’s announcement. The Government plans to roll out psychological therapies to 20 areas before increasing services to cover the whole country over the next few years. The spokesman said there would be activity around the launches to educate the public and healthcare professionals.

In last week’s speech, Johnson said: ‘This announcement shows the Government’s commitment to mental health. Improving access to psychological therapies will give people with mental health problems a choice of treatment, helping to reduce dependence on medication.’

Also... This year’s Mental Health Media Awards saw the BBC take home seven of 11 top prizes. The award scheme is now in its 14th year and aims to recognise the best in reporting and portrayals of mental health issues in the media.

And did you know... As many as six million working age adults suffer from depression or anxiety at any one time, resulting in a estimated 91 million working days being lost every year. The problem is estimated to cost the economy £12bn a year.

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