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Is "talking therapy" really what's needed?

The government has announced that it is to inject more money into "talking therapies" to help people "get through the recession". Sue Spencer wonders where the responsibility should lie in these economically challenging times, where the money might end up and how it will be used ...

I had my first experience of interviewing for student nurses this week, and I have to say I was thrilled to discover that there are still many people who are very committed to coming into nursing. Not only that, they have really thought about what they are doing.

This experience coincides with a letter from one of the girls I shared a flat with back in the early 80s in Cambridge when I was a student nurse. It will be 30 years this September since we all turned up at the Nurses' Home in Trumpington Street in Cambridge and the letter was about a reunion to mark this occasion.

I don't know about you but I feel very ambivalent about such gatherings. I am not sure why, but I do know that those three years as a student were not the happiest of my life and I had such a rollercoaster of a time I am not sure I want to revisit any of it.

Both of these events have made me think about the past and how we process the experience. We can often ignore them and move on, or linger on them and let them hold us back. I am pretty sure I did both, but I now realise that this is not the best approach, and that helping people explore these issues can be a very helpful and healing process.

The reason I was thinking about this was the announcement from the government that they are injecting more money into "talking therapies" to help people "get through the recession". Makes me wonder where the responsibility is seen to lie in these economically challenging times, and also where the money might end up and how it might get utilised.

Talking to a therapist might be one way of solving a person's self-esteem issues after being made redundant, but it does all feel a bit trite; and there seems to be such a multifaceted approach that I wonder how much of it is sustainable.

As nurses, we tend to shy away from politics and getting involved in debates about healthcare policy; but one can't help feeling that a lot of this will fall to community nurses to manage. As frontline staff in primary care you may well be the first to hear about local employers having to make cost savings and other family members may report concerns to you. We may also all feel the pinch in the future.

If services are going to be provided in the community as a sticking plaster to the larger global issues, then I strongly feel that all voices should be heard and listened to. The issues facing many at the moment are too important to be simply addressed with rhetoric and soundbites.