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Saturday 3rd December 2016
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The stubborn stain of stigma

29th March 2007

A quick look in the newspapers will reveal how widespread mental health problems are, whether Allegra Versace’s anorexia, or the former transport commissioner of London’s Underground Bob Kiley's alcoholism.

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Mental health problems are the Cinderella of the NHS, but why, asks Madeleine Bunting. Mental ill health is seen as ‘an individual failing of character’ she writes, and consequently blamed on the person suffering it and only right the cure is funded directly from their wallet. Until this is addressed, why would the NHS get involved.

The advent of computerised cognitive behavioural therapy for common problems like mild depression and anxiety, is the latest in a long line of cheap and cheerful treatments to get the masses off the dole and back into work.

‘The recent political interest in mental health is entirely driven by a concern to get levels of incapacity benefit down,’ she writes. CBT fever is overshadowing other treatments, and worryingly may not be as effective as we think it is.

But when will it change, she wants to know. One in six adults experience depression and it is expected to become the biggest disease in the west by 2020.

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