How mental illness loses out in the NHS

Only a quarter of those who need treatment for mental health problems are receiving it, according to a new report published by the London School of Economics. The report, How Mental Illness Loses Out in the NHS, is written by Lord Layard’s Mental Health Policy Group, which is made up of economists, psychologists, doctors and NHS managers.

"It is a real scandal that we have 6 million people with depression or crippling anxiety conditions and 700,000 children with problem behaviours, anxiety or depression," says the report. "Yet three quarters of each group get no treatment."

The report says that talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy, relieve anxiety and depression in 40 per cent of those treated. But despite government funding to train more therapists, availability is patchy with some NHS commissioners not spending the money as intended, and services for children being cut in some areas.

In an article in this morning’s Guardian Professor David Clark, an Honorary Fellow of the British Psychological Society and Professor of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, says:

“Back in 2007 the government listened to the economic argument and launched the excellent Improving Access to Psychological Therapies initiative for adults. The coalition has continued to support the programme and has rightly started to extend it to children.

“IAPT has created a revolution in mental health by establishing a national competency framework for therapists, by training them to a high standard and by carefully monitoring their outcomes. …

However, progress with the initiative has stalled. To make evidence-based psychological treatments more widely available we need to train more therapists in all the NICE-recommended techniques. The government plan is to train 6,000 more by 2014. In the first three years of the programme numbers were on target. This year they have slipped. Only 500 of an expected 800 therapists have been trained, with two health regions training almost no one. This is despite the government allocating funding.”

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