The Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics has today published a report urging that psychological therapy should be made more available to people with depression and chronic anxiety.
The authors of the report argue that there should be a proper psychological therapy service in every part of the country by 2013, claiming that such a service would pay for itself in the reduced expenditure on incapacity benefits from people being able to go back to work.
Professor Mayur Lakhani, Chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “GPs tell me all the time just how hard it is to get talking therapies for their patients. I welcome this important proposal, which, if implemented, could transform the care of thousands of patients with anxiety and depression.”
10,000 therapists needed
The report claims that there are more people with a mental illness on incapacity benefits than the total number of unemployed people on benefit, and that only a quarter of those who are ill are receiving any treatment – in most cases medication. It also claims that in most areas waiting lists are over nine months, if therapy is available at all.
The report goes on to propose that as a course of therapy costs £750 it pays for itself in money saved on incapacity benefits and lost tax receipts, and suggests that a service can be provided in every area at no net cost. The report estimates that this would require 10,000 therapists and 250 local services, with 40 new services opened each year till
Responding to the report, Chief Executive of Welsh mental health charity Hafal, Bill Walden-Jones, stated: “The report provides a compelling economic argument for the provision of talking therapies as well as pointing out how they can also reduce the distress experienced by many people with mental illness.
“However, while talking therapies would undoubtedly have benefits for people with depression or anxiety, providing talking therapies for people with severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder should be the priority. People with severe mental illness are simply in the greatest need of talking therapies as their illness is more debilitating, and in purely economic terms, the potential savings would be even greater, as these therapies might lessen the need for hospitalisation and other high-cost services.”
To read the report in full, click here.