Depression help would cost government nowt
Depression is arguably the biggest social and health problem now facing the government. Experts are calling for for a massive investment in help for those suffering.
Around 15% of the population suffers from depression or anxiety. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends psychological therapy as a cost effective treatment. However it is nowhere near as widely available as drugs like Prozac even though drugs have side-effects and don't work for everyone.
Depression and anxiety disorders cost the UK around £17bn in lost output, says Professor Richard Layard of the London School of Economics in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal. He says psychological therapy could be introduced at zero-cost to the government.
'There is no net cost to the government because of savings on incapacity benefits and other NHS costs. There are now more than 1 million mentally ill people receiving incapacity benefits - more than the total number of unemployed people receiving unemployment benefits.'
To implement the NICE guidelines requires 10,000 more therapists, says Layard. The extra therapists should work in teams based in centres, but much of the therapy should be delivered to people near their homes, in general practices, job centres and workplaces.
He believes that training this number of therapists is feasible over a seven year period, and recommends that 250 of these psychological treatment centres should be set up over the next seven years.
'f this is well done, it could transform the lives of millions, at no net cost to the Exchequer,' he concludes.
Screening for depression may soon become health policy in England and Wales and GPs will be rewarded for doing this under their new contract. the trouble is that screening is not a lot of good if effective treatment does not follow. The BMJ editorial argues that screening should only be considered as part of a package of enhanced care. Screening alone will increase costs with no benefit.
Page created on May 2nd, 2006
Page updated on January 17th, 2010