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More cash for talking therapies to stave off recession depression

The Government has vowed to stave off a surge in people suffering from depression during the economic crisis by ploughing more cash into the provision of talking therapies.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson and Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell will announce this week an extra £13m investment to speed up the rollout of psychological therapies over the next two years and provide faster services for GPs to refer to.

The additional investment will mean that on top of the 35 talking therapy services already up and running, a further 81 will become available in 2009 - 25% more than was originally planned.

This is in addition to the £170m promised to improve GPs' ability to refer patients with mild to moderate depression to talking therapies services.
Overall, Alan Johnson announced a new package of measures including:

  • Job support workers at every talking therapy service, providing job support for people with common mental health
  • Urging PCTs to divert money freed up by the reduction in VAT to commission debt advice and family counselling services.
  • Health advisers on a dedicated NHS Direct phone line being trained to spot people who might be experiencing depression because of economic problems and refer then to help.
  • Better online advice and information about the availability of services near to people's homes through NHS Choices

The investment will also provide more training for staff in primary healthcare teams, helping them to recognise mental health problems that could be due in part to the economic crisis.

Mr Johnson said: 'In the current economic downturn, the potential exists for more people to become anxious or depressed and experience lower levels of mental well-being.

'No one should be left in any doubt about where to turn. The NHS as a whole will be better equipped to recognise these issues and refer people to appropriate treatment or support.'

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