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Health: Mental Health

House of Lords written question – answered on 12th May 2011.

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Photo of Lord Jones of Cheltenham Lord Jones of Cheltenham Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government why there is an increase in the number of patients suffering from mental health conditions; and whether the use of mood-changing drugs may be a factor.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

Incidence and prevalence rates for the majority of mental illnesses have remained remarkably static. However, the numbers of people being treated are increasing and the reasons for this are complex. Doctors are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about the treatments available for mental illness, including psychological therapies, and confident in prescribing medication. Improvements in medication such as antidepressants, in terms of them having fewer side effects and withdrawal symptoms, make them more likely to be prescribed. People are also more aware of common mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety as being treatable conditions and are prepared to seek help.

Illicit drug use can be associated with an increase in the risk of developing a mental health problem, especially where an individual already has a pre-existing mental illness or a genetic predisposition to mental illness.

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