The NHS should offer meditation to treat long-term depression, a mental health charity has said.
The Mental Health Foundation published a report stating that annual savings of £7.5bn could be made to the cost of treating depression if the therapy was rolled-out across GPs’ surgeries.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is already recommended for recurrent depression by NICE, which reviews the cost effectiveness of NHS treatments.
NICE made the recommendation in 2004 after studies suggested that MBCT could halve depression relapse rates.
However, despite the backing, only a a fifth of GPs say they can access the treatment for their patients at present, according to the charity’s report Be Mindful.
Under MBCT, patients get an eight-week course of two-hour sessions combining meditation with orthodox “thought training” at an average cost of £300.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Mindfulness-based therapy could be helping to prevent thousands of people from relapsing into depression every year. This would have huge knock-on benefits both socially and economically, making it a sensible treatment to be making available, even at a time when money is short within the NHS.”