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NICE depression guidelines could sideline counselling, charity warns

By Laura Montini

Controversial new NICE guidelines on treating depression could end up reducing treatment options for patients seeking counselling services, the mental health charity Mind has warned.

Published yesterday, the new guidelines advise GPs that patients with ‘persistent sub-threshold depressive symptoms' should be offered the same treatment options as those with mild to moderate depression if their symptoms continue for at least two years, and are expected to lead to a rise in the prescription of antidepressants.

But Mind fear that increasing use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as an alternative low-intensity psychological intervention will sideline the use of counselling services.

The charity's chief executive, Paul Farmer, said: ‘By recommending CBT over counselling, we are concerned that counselling will be squeezed out by commissioners and it will become harder for patients to access a range of treatments, and find the one that works for them.'

‘Depression can be a complex issue, and while CBT can bring huge benefits to many people, for others it isn't always the right approach and there is no substitute for talking through long-term issues with a counsellor.'

‘The supply of talking therapies is still below the demand and providers need to increase the availability of all talking treatments across the board. We need to ensure that the increased use of CBT is not at the expense of other therapies, and not at the expense of patient choice.'

New NICE guidelines threaten the use of counselling services to treat depression, Mind has warned New NICE guidelines threaten the use of counselling services to treat depression, Mind has warned

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