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Lack of medicines information for young people

According to a new study of almost 360,000 patients aged 6 to 18 years old in Wales, there has been a large increase in the prescription of antidepressants to children and young people over the past ten years (The Independent online, 9 September 2016).

(http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/antidepressants-childhood-children-use-statistics-30-per-cent-10-years-unhappiness-a7231756.html).

When antidepressants are prescribed to children, it is crucial that both they and their parents have comprehensive information about the effects that they can have. In 2014, however, YoungMinds conducted a survey which found that half of young people taking medicines were unhappy with the information they had received.

For that reason we set up HeadMeds.org.uk. It is aimed at young people aged between 13–25 years and contains comprehensive and accessible information about the effects that mental health medicines can have, including answers to questions like “Will this affect my sex life?” and “Can I drink alcohol with this”? It also includes real life stories in which people explain how their medicines affects them.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines suggest that antidepressants can have a place in treating some mental health problems among young people, in combination with psychological therapies. As prescription rates continue to rise, we hope that HeadMeds will help children and parents make informed decisions about whether medication is the right approach. We encourage pharmacists to signpost young patients taking mental health medicines to the website.

Nick Harrop

Media and campaigns manager

YoungMinds

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2016.20201698

Readers' comments (1)

  • Andrew Low

    It seems there has been a really rapid rise in the number of young people suffering from mental health problems.
    This point is made in the book "Silence Your Mind" by Dr Ramesh Manocha,GP and researcher at the university of Sydney in Australia.
    Dr Manocha gives the background for the observation and considers some of the evidence.
    One doctor talking on Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4 rather uncharitably said that the fault was with the young themselves,but there are others who say otherwise.
    If this is the time of the painful birth of collective consciousness (see some of the things said in Sahaja Yoga or in The Light of the Koran by Flore Descieux for example),then we are all up against a problem,which is quite a challenge.
    I don't know that medicine with a green prescription pad is the way forward.

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