Huge rise in men­tal health drug pre­scrip­tions across Tay­side

Nhs fig­ures show amount of drugs handed out has grown steadily over the last decade

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - Na­dia vidi­nova

Pre­scrip­tions for men­tal health drugs have al­most dou­bled over the past 10 years, new NHS fig­ures re­veal.

A to­tal of 1,149,216 pre­scrip­tions for an­tide­pres­sants, ADHD drugs and medicines to treat con­di­tions such as psy­choses and de­men­tia, were recorded in Tay­side and Fife in 2016-17.

A decade ago, pre­scrip­tions to­talled 648,968 and the num­ber grew steadily year-on-year, with the largest over­all in­crease ob­served in de­men­tia treat­ment.

Pre­scrip­tions for de­men­tia drugs have more than tripled since 2006/7.

The news comes shortly af­ter Men­tal Health Aware­ness Day, which aimed to give men­tal health staff, pa­tients and other stake­hold­ers a plat­form to share ex­pe­ri­ences and dis­cuss what needs to be done to im­prove care.

NHS Tay­side in­terim clin­i­cal di­rec­tor for men­tal health and learn­ing dis­abil­ity ser­vices Dr Stu­art Doig said: “Drug ther­apy can be im­por­tant in help­ing peo­ple re­cover from a men­tal ill­ness, as well as help pre­vent them from re­laps­ing or pre­vent­ing their con­di­tion de­te­ri­o­rat­ing.

“Not all men­tal health con­di­tions re­quire drug treat­ment and some con­di­tions may re­spond to psy­cho­log­i­cal, ed­u­ca­tional or so­cial in­ter­ven­tions.

“How­ever, it is in­creas­ingly com­mon that pa­tients re­ceive a com­bi­na­tion of drug ther­apy and th­ese other in­ter­ven­tions to help them re­cover from their ill­ness.”

Dr Doig ex­plained an­tide­pres­sants are used for a range of med­i­cal con­di­tions, such as chronic pain, mean­ing a rise in pre­scribed items does not nec­es­sar­ily mean a rise in rates of men­tal health problems.

He added in­creased pub­lic aware­ness of men­tal health con­di­tions means peo­ple are more likely to seek sup­port from their doc­tor.

Dr Doig said: “An­other im­por­tant point is that the num­ber of items pre­scribed is not the same as the num­ber of peo­ple re­ceiv­ing pre­scrip­tions and there will be vari­a­tion in the num­ber of items pre­scribed to a per­son in a year depend­ing on how of­ten they re­ceive pre­scrip­tions.

“In­creased lev­els of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and di­ag­no­sis of men­tal health con­di­tions, in­clud­ing de­men­tia, means that more pa­tients are ac­cess­ing im­por­tant treat­ments that can im­prove the qual­ity of life for them and their fam­i­lies.”

nvidi­nova@the­ Pri­mary school pupils in Fife are be­ing of­fered mind­ful­ness lessons in a move to boost their men­tal health.

Four schools in the re­gion have signed up for the Do-bemind­ful Ini­tia­tive, which in­cludes ex­er­cises on breath­ing and lis­ten­ing, as well as strate­gies for man­ag­ing emo­tions and im­prov­ing re­la­tion­ships with oth­ers.

Louise Smith, who leads the ini­tia­tive, said mind­ful­ness had the po­ten­tial to raise at­tain­ment in schools by nur­tur­ing chil­dren’s abil­ity to fo­cus their at­ten­tion – a life skill she de­scribed as fun­da­men­tal in learn­ing

She said: “This is not an airy­fairy thing. It is backed up by sci­en­tific ev­i­dence. Ini­tially the re­search was all about adults and men­tal health, look­ing at mind­ful­ness as a way of help­ing with anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion.

“Then there was a move to look­ing at how mind­ful­ness af­fects young peo­ple, and the ben­e­fits were pretty phe­nom­e­nal.”

She added pre­lim­i­nary ses­sions with chil­dren af­fected by at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der had shown pos­i­tive re­sults.

“What is quite unique is that all the par­ents be­long­ing to the school get ac­cess. The rea­son for open­ing it up to par­ents is there’s a huge fo­cus on clos­ing the at­tain­ment gap in Scot­land.”

Jac­que­line Price, act­ing head of Fife Coun­cil’s ed­u­ca­tion ser­vice, said: “We know that young peo­ple can face chal­lenges and emo­tional health is not sep­a­rate from their gen­eral health and well­be­ing.”

Pic­ture: Ge­orge Mcluskie

Louise Smith has cre­ated an ini­tia­tive to boost pupils’ men­tal well­be­ing.

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