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More help needed for mental health

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:44 02 March 2010

MENTAL health chiefs are today calling on Suffolk's Primary Care Trust for more money for the "Cinderella service" of the NHS.

It has been revealed that just one in 100 people who need treatments such as psychological therapies are getting it because of the funding shortage.

MENTAL health chiefs are today calling on Suffolk's Primary Care Trust for more money for the "Cinderella service" of the NHS.

It has been revealed that just one in 100 people who need treatments such as psychological therapies are getting it because of the funding shortage.

According to Dr Tim Webb, medical director of the Local Health Partnership NHS Trust which is responsible for the county's mental health care, every year there are 60,000 people needing these treatments but the Trust can only treat 600 of them.

But the Evening Star can also reveal today that Ipswich PCT is taking mental health seriously and is set to be involved in a huge project and will head a nationwide pilot scheme to take mental health care into the future.

The news comes following a study revealing that 75 per cent of East Anglia's GP's have openly admitted to over-prescribing drugs such as Seroxat or Prozac for patients suffering with anxiety and depression.

Some have claimed they have been forced into it because of the lack of appropriate psychotherapies available in the county.

However Dr Webb pointed out that depression and anxiety in patients is also frequently being missed by GP's and that psychological therapies must not be seen as an alternative to drugs.

One in four people in the country are believed to suffer or have suffered from some form of mental health problem.

Ian Hartley, chief executive of East Suffolk Mind knows exactly how much the therapies are needed.

He said: "There is a lack of psychological therapies in Suffolk.

"At East Suffolk Mind we have a contract for counsellors to be employed in GP surgeries but they only work a few hours a week because that is all the PCT can afford.

"There is a recognition that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is one of the best treatment but there are not enough people available to provide that treatment."

Mr Hartley said that he felt that mental health care was not seen as a national priority with 90 per cent of care being provided by GP's and that Government help was being targeted at the 10pc of people who had chronic mental health conditions rather than minor ones.

However Dr John Hague who is mental health lead for Ipswich PCT said that big changes are on the way and that mental health was seen as a priority in the county.

He said: "Ipswich PCT is pleased to be linking with the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health in trying to develop in improved level of care for patients suffering from common mental health disorders who are often excluded from society and other areas of care by their diagnosis.

"Mental health is a huge priority for Ipswich."

Dr Hague said that investments were going to be made in mental health in the near future.

He said: "There will be a lot more to say soon."

n. What improvements would you like to see in mental health care? Write to us at Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.


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