One in five here on antidepressants, new figures reveal

Cllr Raymond Farrell believes significant investment is needed in psychological services

AROUND one in five people in Fermanagh are being prescribed “mood and anxiety” medication.
According to the latest figures recently released by the Department of Health, per 1,000 people in the Fermanagh and Omagh district in 2016, 189 were prescribed the drugs.
Retired mental health practitioner Cllr Raymond Farrell said the area needed significant investment in psychological services, such as cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling, adding agreed medical opinion was that medication combined with psychological therapy provided better outcomes.
“I think the talking therapies are really important to help manage conditions such as anxiety and depression,” said Cllr Farrell. “Certainly, while antidepressants have their part to play, and sometimes when doctors are faced with a dilemma of someone not in a good place mentally, medication can sometimes be the treatment of choice.”
Cllr Farrell said the money secured by the DUP in their confidence and supply agreement with the Conservatives, and the additional money has been set aside for the health service in the budget, should be used to employ more counselling and support staff.
“We really need to see this money used in such things as psychological therapies, because the amount spent on antidepressants here in the west is quite significant,” he said.
“Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs have an important part to play. Medication nowadays has significantly improved but we need that complemented by putting bodies on the ground, people with the skills and expertise to support people when they’re going through acute phases of psychiatric difficulties.”
Meanwhile, the Department’s statistics also revealed that, over the same period, the “crude suicide rate” per 100,000 population in the district was 15.3, while there were 665 admissions to hospital for self-harm.
“Unfortunately any death by suicide is a tragedy,” said Cllr Farrell. “There are times and periods of time when that rate tends to fluctuate. Certainly over the Christmas/New Year period we certainly went through a very, very difficult time in the county. I think it’s a great tribute to staff and families who have supported people through difficult days.
“That said, there would also be significant rates of admissions to hospital with self-harm. Those all indicate very clearly that while the suicide figure thankfully has not been as bad as previous times, it still does not really indicate the true situation.”

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