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Funding boost for extra counselling in Sedgefield area
HEALTH officials are to invest £60,000 to tackle a shortfall in counselling services for people suffering from stress and depression in County Durham.
It comes as a waiting lists in the area hit six weeks due to a 480-hour shortfall in counselling services, with some communities lacking any provision.
DDES CCG mental health lead and Newton Aycliffe GP Dr Robert McKinty said:
"Mental health problems affect over 25 per cent of the population and inmy role as a GP I am constantly seeing an increase in the numbers of people, across all ages and genders, who are struggling with the everyday stresses of modern day living.
"The poor economy, lack of jobs, rising fuel prices and benefit changes are just some of the issues that can cause people to develop severe clinical anxiety.
"Counselling has been shown to have a positive impact on patients. It helps to reduce the need for prescription medicine and also frees up GP appointments."
Next April, Clinical Commissioning Groups will take over responsibility from primary care trusts for the planning and purchasing of all health care services.
The services, which will be provided in partnership with Newton Aycliffe Pioneering Care Centre, include a young persons' drop-in for 16 to 18-year-olds delivered through secondary schools and colleges, anger management sessions, veterans' counselling and couple's counselling.
"Hopefully, these new initiative will help to redefine services within Sedgefield, reduce the current six-week waiting time, bring services closer to the community and fill currently unmet needs for patients, " Dr McKinty added.
Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson said he still had concerns about the NHS reforms but welcomed the investment.
"Unemployment has gone up in Sedgefield in the past 12 months to 2,629, " he said.
"This goes against the national picture, which is obviously very worrying. I would welcome anything that can help alleviate the stress I know many people are suffering during these times of austerity."