Friday, June 30, 2006

Tragedy of those who have to wait for therapy

The Guardian has explained Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in a very comprehensive article. I am glad someone has! It is worth reading.

As I outlined in a previous post, one million people in this country are on incapacity benefit because of mental illness - more than the number unemployed. That is a major economic issue.

The fact that thousands of people have to wait up to 18 months for therapy on the NHS has two impacts. Firstly, it means that there are thousands of personal tragedies where people are tortured by depression for months on end because they cannot get access to therapy. Secondly, it is an economic waste as these people are usually signed off work, receiving incapacity benefit and, ludicrously, being prescribed drugs.

What is absolutely crazy is that in many cases, quick access to therapy would mean that many of these people would not need drugs and would be back to work in weeks.

The Guardian article rightly points out that CBT is not a cure-all and that it doesn't necessarily help all cases. However, it is clear that it will help a major chunk of those one million people on incapacity benefit.

I have some personal experience of this area. I have seen, at first hand, the remarkable effect which CBT can have, taking someone from lying on a bed unable to move to full health through a dozen one-hour sessions of therapy, unaccompanied by any drugs whatsoever (not even an aspirin). In the case I witnessed, the person was fortunate enough to have ready access to therapy through a company scheme.

When you have seen that sort of remarkable recovery, it is galling to think that many people are having to wait months for therapy. Months where they are unnecessarily ill and often resorting to drugs prescribed by their GP. It is a human tragedy acted out on thousands of lives. But it is also a major economic waste.

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