Report Says Mentally Ill Need More Therapists

An official report into Britain’s mental health services will warn tomorrow that there are significant gaps in care offered round the country. Many patients do not receive the quick and effective treatment they need.

Almost one third of patients who have asked for counselling, or ‘talking therapy’, cannot get it, says the independent Healthcare Commission. Their report will also highlight the shortage of crisis teams to help individuals with mental health problems.

Special psychological therapies are used to help groups of patients as an alternative to medication. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy is popular with doctors because it tends to have longer-term success than drugs. But the report will show that the therapy is still not available across the country. Family doctors used to have funding for counsellors, but cuts have resulted in a reduction in the number of patients referred for such therapies.

Campaigners, including the charity Mind, have warned that people often get a first appointment with a counselling service and are then put on a waiting list for treatment. Professor Richard Layard, a former social policy adviser to the government, last year produced a report calling for funding for more therapies. He said 10,000 more therapists were needed across the country.