RISE IN MENTAL HEALTH PRESCRIPTIONS IN IRELAND

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At least 3.5 million prescriptions for antipsychotic medications were written in Ireland in 2005, according to the Irish Health Service Executive. This represents an increase of 500,000 annual prescriptions since 2003, and has prompted concern from GROW, one of the country's leading mental health organizations.

GROW noted that approximately 290,000 people in the country -- 7 percent of the population -- are currently taking medications for mental health illnesses, primarily depression, anxiety and behavioral disorders. The group "accepts that doctors are under pressure to prescribe medication to their patients," according to National Program Coordinator Mike Watts, but warns that "people want an instant solution to their problems [and] we urge doctors to look at the alternatives available to them."

The group also commented that while up to 30 percent of health disabilities in Ireland are mental health problems, mental health services received only 6.8 percent of healthcare funding in 2005.