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£170 million boost to mental health therapies

OCTOBER 15, 2007

Health Secretary Alan Johnson has announced a substantial expansion of psychological therapies to provide better support for people with Mental Health problems such as anxiety and depression.  By 2010/11 3,600 new therapists will be trained and employed at an annual cost of £170 million per  year. Since 1994, the Institute of Psychiatry's Professor of Psychology David Clark has been working with Lord Richard Layard at the London School of Economics (LSE) and other colleagues to encourage the government to increase access to evidence based psychological treatments within the NHS. 

Around 1 in 6 people in the community suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder, as do 40 per cent of people on Incapacity Benefit.  Psychological therapies have proved to be as effective as drugs in tackling these common mental health problems and are often more effective in the long run.  NICE guidelines on treatment for depression and anxiety disorders recommend talking therapies, particularly cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). 
Clark and Layard provided the government with strong economic and clinical arguments for increasing public access to CBT through a number of publications, including the “Depression Report”. 

Professor David Clark at the Institute of Psychiatry says: “ We are delighted with the Government’s commitment to train and employ a workforce that can deliver cutting edge, evidence based therapies to the forgotten majority of individuals with mental health problems. It is the first time in my lifetime that mental health has been treated almost on a par with physical illness. It is uncontroversial for the health service to strive to give patients with cancer or cardiovascular disease prompt access to the cutting edge treatment. Now there is both an aspiration and funding to do the same with anxiety and depression. Of course, much work needs to be done to realize the aspiration. However, we have reached ‘ the end of the beginning’ “.

Lord Richard Layard of the London School of Economics said: "This is great news and just what we've all been waiting for.  Mental Health is the biggest social problem in our country.  This new service will bring relief from misery to hundreds of thousands of people."

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