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Britain facing mental health crisis

8th February 2008

The Liberal Democrats have warned that Britain is facing a crisis in mental health care.

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Party leader Nick Clegg described the country as a "Prozac Nation" and warned that the public was being failed because of over-use of pills and poor mental health services.

In a speech to The Guardian Public Services Summit in St Albans, Hertfordshire, he pledged the Lib Dems would guarantee treatment within 13 weeks.

The party received replies from 33 out of 100 NHS trusts it questioned and at present found waits of more than two years for some counselling and psychotherapy services.

Mr Clegg said: "Britain has become the true Prozac Nation. I believe this trend has gone too far. We must cut the number of anti-depressants prescribed by doctors. Pills must not be a crutch for the wider issues in our society which cause mental health problems."

By December, all NHS trusts must ensure all patients are seen within 18 weeks, but this does not apply to mental health services. Mr Clegg said this would change if his party were elected.

He also set out a range of other policies regarding mental health treatment, such as the right to private treatment if they waited too long.

Sane chief executive Marjorie Wallace said: "Only by treating mental illness as being as life-threatening as cancer or heart disease will we bring services to the front line and end the years of chronic neglect."

The Department of Health said it was continuing to work towards improving access to mental health services.

 

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