Microsoft word - cc article 4 - prozac and prescriptions.doc

September 11, 2005

SECTION: Observer News Pages, Pg. 6
LENGTH: 521 words
HEADLINE: Call for more therapists to end Prozac nation
BYLINE: Anushka Asthana and Ned Temko
THOUSANDS of people are on prescriptions for anti-depression drugs such as Prozac
because of a lack of therapists who could be much more effective in treating the
Richard Layard, the eminent professor and Labour peer, will say tomorrow that people
suffering from depression are given little 'except a few minutes with the GP and some
Layard, who wrote the Downing Street strategy paper, 'Mental Health: Britain's Biggest
Social Problem?', will say there is a 'mass of suffering' with half of all those with clinical
depression receiving no help. He will call for 10,000 new therapists to be trained over the
next five to 10 years.
In his lecture at the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, Layard will add: 'We have
effective means of treating it, which are enshrined in the (government) guidelines but
they can't be implemented with the current resources of people and money.'
He believes that options such as cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT), that are 'in heavy
demand but not adequately available', are as effective as drugs and carry a lower risk of
'Having only drugs as an option is unsatisfactory,' Layard told The Observer. 'Many
people do not get treated at all because they don't want drugs. There is a huge demand for
therapy because people want to understand what is wrong with them. We have such
heavy prescription of drugs, because there is no choice.'
His comments come as the Healthcare Commission reveal significant gaps in the
provision for mental health patients in England. A survey of 25,000 patients being
released tomorrow, is expected to show that only 40 per cent had been given any access
to talking therapies over the past 10 months.
Layard said that he was not against prescribing drugs but wanted to highlight the fact that
powerful therapies exist: 'If a person is given Prozac and keeps taking it (continously),
their profile of depression and risk of relapse is about the same as 16 weekly sessions of
cognitive behavioural therapy,' he said.
Last night, Health Department official said they would be 'reading with attentiveness'
Lord Layard's comments and were 'already committed to a series of steps to widen access
to mental-health care'. Next month will see a 'focus on child and adolescent mental-health
services around the country with a view to ensuring they are pro viding the maximum
possible access and care.'
Dr Andrew McCullock, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said that
mental health provisions were a 'postcode lottery' and welcomed Layard's call for more
funding. 'Our information is that there are huge gaps in access to CBT.
'It works - there is overwhelming evidence of that. It is patient specific and it is relatively
cheap in comparison to medication.'
Meanwhile, a report by mental health charity, MIND has revealed the difficulties for
patients coming off psychiatric drugs.
Coping with Coming Off shows that four out of 10 patients found their GP unhelpful
when they were coming off drugs. More than nine out of 10 turned instead to internet and
email groups for support.
LOAD-DATE: September 15, 2005



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