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Mentally ill 'should be offered cash to take pills'

3rd January 2007

Mentally ill patients should be offered a cash incentive to take their medication, according to a group of London psychiatrists.

Writing in a study in the Psychiatric Bulletin, the doctors say people should be offered between £5 and £15 to take antipsychotic medication which can help stabilise their condition.

Led by Dirk Claassen, a consultant psychiatrist at East London and the City Mental Health trust, the doctors said: "The results in terms of reduced hospital admissions for the patients who accepted the offer seem beneficial.

"There is no harm intended or caused, the service user can revoke the offer at any time, and the treatment is generally available."

But campaigners have condemned the proposals. Speaking on Today, the chief executive of mental health charity Rethink, Paul Jenkins, highlighted the "devastating" side effects of medication and said payments would not help people overcome severe mental illnesses.

Official figures show that one in six adults will suffer mental distress at any one time, with between two and four people in every 1,000 developing schizophrenia.