Government adviser Richard Layard says mental illness is the UK's biggest social problem, bigger than unemployment or poverty. Do our experts agree?
Chief executive, Rethink, mental health charity
With more people on incapacity benefit due to mental health problems than there are on unemployment benefit, it's time we woke up to this problem. The World Health Organisation agrees that mental health problems are the main cause of disability in the UK; poor mental health and the failure of society to engage with this problem is both a cause and a consequence of unemployment and poverty. It would be a huge step forward to recruit 10,000 more therapists as we know therapies work and we know people value them, and that more of them would have the potential to change public attitudes to mental health. Three million people go to their GPs every year with a mental health problem. If they get a good response that they find helpful, the prejudices against mental health will start to change.
Therapist and media officer for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
We already have all the therapists we need; it's a question of postcodes and being able to pay them a proper wage. There are more psychotherapists in London NW3 than in the whole of Devon and Cornwall. Around 70% of GPs provide some counselling, but usually they are only given the resources to provide four or six sessions. We welcome the fact that Lord Layard is raising the profile of therapy, but as a therapist he is wonderful economist. He says patients don't want more counselling, they want more than someone to talk to - despite the fact that counselling is often the patient's choice.
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