People with depression lack access to exercise therapy

People with depression are losing out on potentially beneficial exercise therapy because of a lack of schemes for health professionals to refer patients on to, the Mental Health Foundation said today.

In a report, Moving on up,  the charity said 2004 National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommendations for patients with mild to moderate depression to be offered exercise therapy were not being fulfilled.

It found only 49% of GPs had access to exercise referral schemes, but of those who did 80% used them as a treatment for their patients. Benefits are said to include increased confidence and reduced isolation.

The report said barriers included a lack of awareness among health professionals and a lack of funding for schemes from primary care trusts and councils.

It called for PCTs and councils to fund the development of a range of exercise services, catering for patients’ different interests and levels of fitness, and for closer links between health professionals and staff in exercise schemes.

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