The Press (York)
Jan 19 2007
AN EXPERT in mental health at the University of York has called for a radical reform of psychological therapies across the country.
Professor David Richards, of the university’s Department of Health Sciences, said despite being “both effective and highly valued” by patients, no more than one per cent of people with anxiety or depression receive such therapy.
But, in a seminar to the Dr Foster Ethics Committee, he argued traditional treatments were not the answer.
Prof Richards said: “People with common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety tell us they want help which is convenient, acknowledges their own strengths and is culturally appropriate.
“We are now pioneering ways of helping people by recruiting new workers from the same culture, the same class and the same community as the people they serve. These workers operate in the community, with the community and for the community.”
In a pilot scheme in Doncaster, Prof Richards and his team have designed a new method of helping people with anxiety and depression. Within 24 hours of seeking help they are phoned by a new case manager, who organises a recovery programme based on education and self-help.
Almost all the treatment is delivered on the phone, making it quicker and more convenient for patients. More than 300 patients a month are being dealt with by the service.
He said: “In all public services, people have demanded greater visibility and higher quality. The police service and traffic management are examples where new support officers have been a resounding success. Our case managers are the community support officers of psychological therapy.
“The NHS now faces a choice between a system which will perpetuate existing inequalities versus a system which will embed psychological therapies in people’s own communities. It is a choice between investment in a system which has failed us in the past versus investment in change.”