August 27, 2008

GBP 1m Helpline for Depression is Launched

A 24-HOUR helpline for people with depression has been launched in the Lothians.

A two-year trial of the GBP 1 million NHS Living Life scheme will take place in Tranent, Prestonpans and Cockenzie to see if it makes an impact.

It is understood it is the first time a telephone-based NHS service offering psychological help has been introduced in the UK.

It is hoped it will reduce the number of people attending GPs to be prescribed with anti- depressive medication.

Dr Ian Johnson, clinical director of the East Lothian Community Health Partnership, said: "I am delighted that people living in East Lothian will benefit from this new treatment option. We have to be as flexible as possible in how we deliver a range of treatments to match people's needs."

If it is successful, NHS 24 will consider rolling the scheme out nationwide. Currently around 300,000 people every year in Scotland seek help for depression.

Tony McLaren, national co-ordinator of mental health organisation Living Life, added: "This is a first step in improving access to psychological therapies and gives Scottish patients an additional choice in their struggle with low mood and depression."

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