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Volume 554: debated on Tuesday 27 November 2012

15. What recent assessment he has made of the treatment of repeat episode depression by (a) drugs and (b) mindfulness-based intervention. (129949)

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has evaluated and recommended the use of mindfulness-based therapies as a psychological intervention for the prevention of relapse, within its guideline, “Depression: the treatment and management of depression in adults”. Drug treatment is also useful in the management of enduring depression.

The number of prescriptions issued for anti-depressants has gone from 9 million to 46 million in the past 10 years. NICE has recommended mindfulness as a better treatment than drug therapy for repeat episode depression, but it has not been taken up by the NHS. Will the Minister meet a delegation of MPs and mindfulness experts from across the UK to discuss how mindfulness can play its full role in helping the NHS and people with mental health problems?

I acknowledge the hon. Gentleman’s work on promoting the case for psychological therapies, including mindfulness, and would be happy to meet him and a delegation of experts. The Government have massively increased psychological therapies—nearly 1 million people in the past two years accessed psychological therapies through the improving access to psychological therapies programme. We are totally committed to improving access to psychological therapies to cure the imbalance in access to services for people with mental health problems that has existed for a very long time.