The City Council wants to establish stress clinics as part of a larger health initiative focusing on mental health problems.
Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for health, Ninna Thomsen, is aiming to gather broad support from across the political spectrum at the forthcoming negotiations over the municipal budget for 2015, especially because the government has just announced its aim to spend 1.6 billion kroner on improving mental health services.
Nowhere to go
The new scheme will allow doctors to send patients with stress and anxiety symptoms to psychotherapy.
GPs especially welcome the initiative. Many of the symptoms that people seek consultation for are stress-related, but the doctors's treatment methods are often extremely limited.
"We are dealing with lots of patients who are suffering from stress," Birgitte Alling Moller, the chairman of the Capital Region GPs, told Berlingkse.
"They experience insomnia, have difficulty concentrating and other symptoms. Often that means they must be given sick leave. Today, we don’t really have anywhere we can refer them to, so it is very good that Copenhagen has plans to create stress clinics."
Blind spot mental health
Thomson decries the insufficient attention that has been accorded to mental health problems.
"We have had an almost embarrassing blind spot in our focus on health, in which we only deal with physical illnesses . But we know that many, many citizens feel that they have very high stress levels, and that a significant proportion of benefit recipients are also struggling with mental health challenges. We hope that the new initiative will catch patients before it really goes downhill, so we can avoid medication, hospitalisation, long-term illness and job loss.”
The costs of feel-bad
Symptoms of stress, such as disinterestedness and anxieties, may be peanuts in the public health bowl, but the costs can quickly add up.
Stress increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and depression, increases the use of health services and sick leave, while decreasing productivity.
With 23 percent of the citizens stating that they have high stress levels, Copenhagen has a particularly worrying mental health profile.
The council estimates that around 300 citizens will make immediate use of the stress clinics, but that the number is bound to grow in the long term.