Doctors’ surgeries are to be part of an advice network being set up to offer specialist counselling for depression and anxiety affecting people who lose their jobs in the recession.
The network in GPs’ surgeries, Jobcentres and NHS Direct will see sufferers referred to psychotherapists in a bid to combat an expected rise in mental illness and long-term unemployment caused by the downturn.
The scheme, announced by health secretary Alan Johnson and Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell, will include an extra £13m allocated to improve services, with changes being pushed through more quickly than previously planned.
Counselling centres will be established in every primary care trust by the end of next year, staffed by an extra 3,600 therapists and hundreds of specialist nurses.
Mr Johnson explained: “In the current economic downturn, the potential exists for more people to become anxious or depressed and experience lower levels of mental wellbeing.
“If someone is feeling down after losing their job, then the best solution is a new job and we’re helping people to find them wherever possible.”
Primary care trusts will also be encouraged to use up to £80m of savings from the temporary 2.5% VAT cut to fund services such as debt advice and family counselling.
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