Ministry of Health
2018/03/06 - 2018/09/06
In some ways, depression is the most important and the most neglected disease of our times. Alongside anxiety disorders, depression causes the most misery worldwide and according to WHO it is the leading cause of disability globally. In Europe, mental health problems comprise almost half of all illness and pose huge costs to our economies surmounting to over 800 billion euros a year. Depression shortens life as much as smoking does but still lacks sufficient attention and investments while the financial returns are substantial. Despite the fact that 1 out of 6 adults would be diagnosed with depression today, only 25% of those in need get any kind of help. The estimation of adequate or high-quality treatment is even worse.
This situation might be understandable if there was no effective treatment. But there is. Evidence-based psychological interventions can be just as effective as antidepressant medications and in some cases have longer-lasting effects. Only 20% of people get better on their own, but with the help of psychological therapies up to 70% can reliably recover within a matter of a few months.
In Lithuania, pharmaceutical treatment is commonplace, and 6% of citizens consume psychotropic medications on a daily basis. According to State Patient Fund, the consumption is surpassed only by cardiovascular drugs. While a stepped-care approach is recommended for efficient treatment of mental disorders, in Lithuania access to low-intensity and psychological therapies is very limited. We could improve access and save money, by starting from low-intensity interventions for mild to moderate disorders and providing high-intensity or pharmaceutical therapy only for severe cases. Patients should also have a voice and choose their preferred treatment to achieve the best outcomes.
Accordingly, our project aims to improve access to evidence-based psychological therapies in Lithuania. After initial analysis and mapping current human resources and financing, we will hold a Public Consultation with patients, service providers, and experts in the field. We will collaborate in order to best evaluate and understand diverse needs and expectations and plan the most effective services that will highly contribute to the expansion of non-pharmaceutical treatment of depression.