“Mental ill health epidemic” behind anxiety surge

The UK’s largest anxiety charity has reported a dramatic rise in the number of people approaching the organisation for help.

Anxiety UK’s chief executive Nicky Lidbetter said the increase was due to the “mental ill health epidemic” caused by the recession.

Calls to the Anxiety UK helpline doubled and emails requesting support were up 400% in the January/February period, said the charity.

Service user-led Anxiety UK formed in 1970.

The Anxiety UK helpline receives more than 16,000 calls a year from people with phobias and anxiety.

Following concerns of the effects, including job losses, of the recession, the government announced earlier this month that it is speeding up its access to psychological therapies programme whereby 900,000 people with depression and anxiety will be referred to CBT-trained therapists. Half would be cured, said ministers.

The government said it would invest an extra £13 million into the programme which some have criticised for prioritising CBT over other forms of psychological therapy.

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