Danish political support grows for psychological treatment without doctor’s referral

Free psychological help for young people should be available without the need for a referral from a doctor, according to two of Denmark’s left-wing parties.

Danish political support grows for psychological treatment without doctor’s referral
File photo: Lars Rievers/Ritzau Scanpix

The Social Democratic government and its parliamentary allies have already agreed in principle to extend an existing provision for free psychological help so that 6-24-year-olds can also make use of the service.

Free psychological consultation has already seen an increased number of people seeking out help in relation to when a 40 percent user payment was required, according to figures from health authorities (Danske Regioner) and the Danish Psychological Association (Dansk Psykolog Forening).

Newspaper Jyllands-Posten reports that the scheme cost 9.6 million kroner more than expected during its first year, equivalent to 80 percent more use than expected.

A number of parties now want to make the provision more accessible by removing the criteria of a doctor’s referral or diagnosis of “mild to moderate anxiety and depression,” as currently required under the scheme.

Socialist People’s Party (SF) spokesperson for psychological issues Trine Torp said she was not concerned about spiralling costs, should the provision be made referral-free.

“Therapeutic work is hard. It’s not just a chat over a cup of coffee. Psychologists are constantly assessing whether the patient needs help,” Torp told Jyllands-Posten.

“The increase in the cost (to the state) reflects that the need is there,” she added.

The Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten), another of the government’s supporting parties, also backs those views, according to Jyllands-Posten’s report.

Torp added she saw spending on mental health as a good investment.

“It is an investment that is good on a human, societal and economic level. We know it’s a lot more expensive if these young people instead need psychiatric help, drop out of school or are unable to get a foothold in the labour market,” she told Ritzau.

The Social Liberals still support some form of assessment prior to free psychological treatment, however.

Minister for Health Magnus Heunicke told Jyllands-Posten in a written comment that the “government and support parties agree on… extension of the existing scheme for free psychological help to encompass 6-24-year-olds.”

READ ALSO: Moving to Denmark: The link between international relocation and depression

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