A NEW health report says more than one in ten people in Swindon suffer from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Now a charity is calling for better working between mental health services after the report, for Swindon Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, revealed between 25,203 and 29,422 of the town’s 209,156 residents suffer from disorders including anxiety, depression, phobias and panic attacks.
Another 1,500 to 1,600 are estimated to be living with a severe and enduring mental health condition. Numbers are expected to rise as the population heads to 225,300 by 2016.
The report, for a meeting next Wednesday, says Swindon has the third highest number of prescriptions for anti-depressants in the South West.
The figure is linked to factors including unemployment, benefit cuts, family circumstances, debt, caring responsibilities and domestic violence.
The chairman of mental health charity SUNS, Ann Mooney, urged the council and mental health service to work more closely with other agencies and schools to ensure care and attention was given to the most vulnerable people, especially carers.
“The services need to work together if things are going to change and improve,” said Ann, who suffers from mental health problems.
“There is no support for carers who don’t attend the carers centre.
“When young people look after a loved one from a very young age, they don’t get away without being scared and that can make them feel depressed.”
She said very few people perceived anxiety or depression as a mental health issue.
However, the high number anti-depressants prescriptions did not alarm her as medication was beneficial in some cases.
“Some of our users feel that they are sometimes given medication as a quick fix,” she said. “But there are also some people, like me, who need to be on medication. If I stopped taking it I would be very ill.
“It’s about whether or not it is the right thing for the person and I think what doctors don’t always do is sit down with them and a loved one and explain side effects, so they can make a choice. Talking therapies should also be offered.”
Swindon Council’s senior public health manager, Frances Mayes, said measures had and would be put in place to maximise prevention and ensure residents got the medical and emotional support they needed.
She said: “We are working on creating an advice, advocacy and information hub to have all the agencies working together with the voluntary sector and some statutory services in the same place, to make sure that when people need advice it’s easy to access.”
A priority would be raising awareness of mental health and encouraging people with depression or carers to come forward for support.