Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Questions (485)

Terence Flanagan


485. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if he has considered making available therapeutic treatment for persons such as gym membership for persons who are depressed rather than always having drugs administered; if there is an estimated saving from this measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24258/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

There are a number of treatment options for depression. The best and most appropriate treatment option depends on the individual case, the likely cause of depression and the severity of symptoms.

Treatment for depression usually involves a combination of medication, talking therapies - usually provided by a mental health professional, such as a counsellor, psychiatrist or psychologist - and self-help. In some cases, a combination of all three might be the most appropriate treatment plan for that individual. Regular exercise, reduction in caffeine intake and avoiding alcohol can also prove helpful when treating depression.

Depression is quite common and about one in ten people will experience depression at some point. However, the exact number of people with depression is hard to estimate because many people do not get help or are not formally diagnosed with the condition.

In Budgets 2012 and 2013 this Government provided a total of €7.5 million to facilitate the roll out of the Counselling in Primary Care (CIPC) initiative. This is a new national service which will improve access for people to counselling in a primary care setting. Medical card holders aged 18 and over who are referred by their GP or other member of the primary care team can have up to 8 counselling sessions to address mild to moderate psychological difficulties. No consideration has been given to the provision of gym membership to those presenting with depression and it is not possible to estimate the likely cost or savings accruing from such an initiative.