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GP referral for counselling services improves anxiety and depression in stressed men

GPs referring stressed men for counselling and acupuncture therapy improves anxiety and depressive mood, findings from a pilot scheme reveal.

The scheme, piloted by a practice in London, trained GPs alongside an in-house counsellor to help raise their awareness of anxiety and stress specifically in men, with referred patients then undergoing treatment of acupuncture and/or counselling for up to 12 weeks.

It found that 78% of men referred as part of the study reported feeling better after completing the scheme; men felt less anxious after under-going treatment and men with depression saw a significant improvement in their mood.

Participants were made aware of the scheme through adverts and leaflets in the practice but the majority of men were referred by GPs and the researchers involved in the study says this shows the ‘important role that GPs played in identifying and encouraging men’.

However, the researchers said that due to the in-house training the GPs had received, the scheme would need appropriate training and resources to be in place for future projects to work.

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Marginally more men went to counselling than acupuncture, dispelling the age-old myth that men ‘do not talk’ and researchers believe their pilot provides evidence for other depression therapies – such as counselling or acupuncture – to be more widely available as an alternative to CBT.

Researchers say that their study showed ‘a willingness amongst GPs to refer to both counselling and acupuncture.’

Writing in the study, the researchers conclude that GP referral for acupuncture and counselling would be an effective way to treat a wide range of men and state: ‘Our findings suggest that a service provided in this way, can engage men of widely diverging age, ethnicity and class, with positive outcomes for men’s well-being.

‘A larger sample would also allow for comparisons between treatment received (counselling, acupuncture or both) and usual care, allowing further understanding of the benefits of the different modalities and when to use each treatment.’



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