The Health and Social Care Board issued the following response to the Script Report:

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and the Public Health Agency (PHA) encourage the application of National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved clinical guidance across the health and social care service.

It is notable that through the application of such guidance, we have seen the general increase in prescribing.

In addition to the long-term trends in prescription rises, there are a number of other factors that may have contributed to the increase in anti-depressant prescribing.

NICE clinical guidance has highlighted the need to raise awareness of mental health issues particularly to reduce stigmatisation and to make effective interventions.

Public mental health initiatives, such as the PHA’s ‘Minding Your Head’ campaign aims to encourage help seeking and increase wider public understanding and awareness of mental health issues. The campaign evaluations indicate public information campaigns have been effective in reaching a mass audience and achieved a very high level of exposure. The evaluations have also demonstrated that campaigns have encouraged the public to think about their mental health and encouraged action in relation to mental health.

Additionally, improved GP awareness of ‘good depression management’ has led to improved detection rates and a parallel increase in interventions and prescriptions.

The HSCB recognises that much more needs to be done in order to provide alternatives to drug therapy for people who present with common mental health needs. The HSCB as part of Transforming Your Care proposals is at the start of a 5 year plan to establish Primary Care Talking Therapy Hubs across each Trust area. These Primary Care Talking Therapy Hubs will focus on providing a range of psychological therapies (such as Counselling, CBT, Psychotherapy) and lifestyle support for people who are experiencing common mental health problems.

One of the key objectives underpinning this development is to reduce the reliance on drug therapy. The Hubs are being developed around General Practice. When fully developed, the Hubs will include a range of care providers working together as a consortium, thereby ensuring a greater range of alternative interventions that General Practitioners can access for their patients.

The HSCB has made an initial investment of £1.7m to support the establishment of the Hubs and to extend the range and scope of psychological therapies across mental health services. It should be noted that some of this investment has been made available through prescribing savings. Subject to the availability of additional resources the HSCB plans to further strengthen the range and scope of services provision within the Hubs.

PLEASE ... don't make health care decisions based on this report alone. We're not doctors. The data presented here are for the purpose of broad consideration. Information on particular drugs should not be considered exhaustive or necessarily applicable to your individual health.