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PlaNet News & Views

Posted on 19-6-06

The Talking Cure
By Alan Marston, June 19, 2006
Psychological therapy should be offered to every person in the country
with depression, anxiety or schizophrenia. That's one of the messages I
got out of the PlaNet TV programme I made with Dr Thom Rudegear `Get
Yourself Together' ... the other message was that we each need to be our
own therapist as well. No human being is immune from the swings and
roundabouts that characterise the human psyche attempting to carry the
burden of consciousness. We are all at risk of dropping that burden when
life gets `heavy'.
Only one in four people with common forms of mental illness receives any
treatment, and often they are given drugs. Yet Dr Thom, with many years
experience as a leading psychiatrist in the public health sector states
that psychological therapies work best on the whole, with drugs as a last
resort, not the first.
Expanding mental health services would be a huge investment, but it would
pay for itself in savings, better outcomes and if we have to use the terms
of commerce, `increased productivity'.
One person in six could be diagnosed at some time with chronic anxiety or
depression, which means that one in three families is affected. Crippling
depression and chronic anxiety are the biggest causes of misery in the
so-called developed world - of which, depending on who you talk to, New
Zealand is a member.
Falling back to "visit your doctor first" doesn't cut the mustard. Most
GPs can offer only medication and perhaps a little counselling. This is a
waste of lives and money. Thousands of New Zealanders are on sickness
benefits because of mental illness - more than the number unemployed.
Access to talking therapies should be as big a priority for the Department
of Health as any other existing treatment, if not the priority.
Sometimes talk is not cheap.