In October, Great Britain announced it would pour the equivalent of $600 million into its National Health Service (NHS) over the next three years to train new psychologists and other mental health workers in evidence-based practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and to disseminate such treatments so they are available to anyone who needs them.
"Improving access to psychological therapies will give people with mental health problems a real choice of treatment, helping to reduce dependence on medication," said the country's health secretary, Alan Johnson, while announcing the program.
The plan will mean that 900,000 more people will be treated for depression and anxiety, and 3,600 newly trained "psychological therapists"-including doctoral-level psychologists, counseling psychologists, nurses and others-will be providing evidence-based treatments by 2011, estimates the U.K. Department of Health. Besides helping people live healthier lives, the government believes the move will help reduce costs related to depression and anxiety, including sick leave, lost jobs and low productivity-totaling about 1 percent of the country's national income, according to a statement by Lord Richard Layard of the London School of Economics, a member of Parliament instrumental in pushing the plan to fruition.
The plan represents a major move forward for psychologists and their clients, says David H. Barlow, PhD, director of Boston University's Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, who consulted to the British government on how to disseminate the treatments.
"This is an incredible development for psychology," Barlow says. "The British government recognizes that we have effective, evidence-based treatments, that patients want them, and that they're a very good alternative to drugs."