Depression guidelines unrealistic without additional resources

Mental health services could be unable to implement new guidelines on treating children with depression, campaigners have warned.

The guidelines, issued last week by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, say GPs should not prescribe anti-depressants to under-18s.

Instead, doctors should issue advice on diet and exercise to children with mild depression, and offer a three month counselling course to those with moderate to severe depression.

But mental health charity YoungMinds warned that, while the guidelines were welcome, a lack of resources could place local authorities and NHS Trusts in real difficulty. 

“The very significant shortage of practitioners able to deliver these therapies is a cause for concern, as is the general lack of awareness of the prevalence of depression in babies, children and young people,” said director Barbara Herts.

Calling for further funding in mental health services for the young, she added: “Too many children’s lives are blighted by depression, for which there are effective treatments.”

Herts said there were real opportunities for schools to help pupils suffering from depression, but that current levels of support were “patchy”.

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