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Drugs Are Not The Answer

If you follow my blogs regularly, I’d better warn you that whilst this is hugely important and you should watch it, this video is longer than usual.

There was a great programme on BBC1 last week with Dr Chris Van Tulleken; you’ve probably seen him on TV: he’s one of the twin doctors making the understanding of medicine much more accessible to the likes of you and me!

Well, last week’s episode was a topic very close to my heart: he wants to know why we’re giving out 3 times more medicine to our kids today than we did 40 years ago. And he looks specifically at depression, where the number of children being treated with drugs has more than doubled between 2005 and 2015. What is more he finds research at the University of Oxford that shows that 13 out of 14 anti-depressants perform no better than a sugar pill or placebo for teenagers and that the evidence for the 14th is shaky at best. So he is searching for non-drug alternatives. Here’s the iPlayer link to the programme:

And yet the controversy over anti-depressants marches on! The very same doctor, a Professor Andrea Cipriani, was on BBC News in February talking about the same research and here’s what he had to say then: “…the final answer to a long-lasting controversy about whether anti-depressants work for major depression. We found that all of the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants work for major depression and for people with major to severe depression; and we also found that some of them work better than others or are better tolerated than others.”

Here’s the BBC News weblink for that interview:

Confused? Me too…thoroughly!

The bottom line is that not only do anti-depressants not work -at least any better than sugar pills- but they are downright dangerous, especially for teenagers. In fact, in 17 years of clinical practice, I have had 2 clients commit suicide and both of these were unequivocally down to medication issues. So medicating depression is not the answer.

In fact, I recently saw a 14 year old girl who attempted suicide in November last year, having already been in counselling for months. However after just 4 out of our 5 sessions, she was signed off by CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) who said there was no point in her coming back: she was a totally different child.

Ultimately though, I believe that the answer to depression is not drugs: from my 17 years of practice, I believe the answer to depression is 3 fold: education, coaching and having the ability to talk to somebody early on about our problems with no fear of judgement.

There are two issues at stake here:

  • The emotional health of our teenagers is plummeting: indeed I saw 4 youngsters between 16 and 25 five years ago. Last year I saw 42.
  • As the pressure piles up on doctors, especially GP’s, their available time with a patient is limited to 7 minutes. So it’s difficult not to just follow the guidelines and hand out anti-depressants. That’s despite some awful side- effects, which include wait for it: an increased likelihood to suicide! As the girl in Chris’s programme pointed out: “I was shocked: I thought we were kind of meant to be preventing that.”

The Prince’s Trust does an annual Survey (The Prince’s Trust Youth Index) on the overall wellbeing of young people in the UK and this year’s Index shows that their wellbeing has dropped to the lowest level since the study was first commissioned in 2009.

  • Within that overall drop, the biggest drop in any area attributed to wellbeing, was emotional health.
  • There is complete disillusion with the job market.
  • 21% of young people think their life will amount to nothing, no matter how hard they try.
  • The number of young people who don’t feel in control of their lives has increased by more than a third: from 28% in 2017 to 39% this year.
  • Self-doubt, fears for the future and concern about money are among the biggest factors.
  • Worryingly 47% of young people think they don’t cope well with setback in general
  • And 28% would not ask for help if they were feeling overwhelmed by something.

Whilst I try very hard not to sound like the voice of doom and gloom, I really do think we’re on the verge of a real crisis here. The younger generation cannot see a future for themselves.

The next problem is that traditional mental health therapy isn’t the answer either and the reason is that both Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy are designed to help you manage your depression. Why would you want to manage it? If you’re managing it, which by the way takes huge amounts of willpower, then by definition it’s still there.

And the NHS’s data show that Counselling and CBT through the NHS are not the answer:

  • 1 in 5 people wait over a year for mental health treatment; 1 in 10 wait 2 years 2
  • Drop-out rates from NHS-funded talking therapies are as high as 90% in some areas of the country 3
  • Only 41.8% of NHS patients complete their therapy programmes 1
  1. Key Facts and Trends in Mental health 2016 Update: Mental Health Network NHS Confederation
  2. We Need To Talk Coalition
  3. Mental Health Matters RSA

So I think you’ll agree that there is a crisis in mental health.

And yet, I believe that we can eliminate Stress, Anxiety and Depression in a generation. So does that make me sound like a “nutter”, given the current position?

Well, over the past 17 years of clinical practice I have seen thousands and thousands of people for these issues, and whilst I haven’t been able to help everybody, the vast majority of them go back into life and make massive shifts. Why?

The Mark Newey Method is based on 3 fundamental foundations that traditional therapy fails miserably at:

  • Self Awareness: 91% of your Mind is Unconscious…and how much do you know about how your unconscious works? In all likelihood nothing…because you were never taught this at school. If you have no inkling of what unconscious programmes and limiting beliefs your mind is creating your reality through, you can’t possibly understand how you’re creating the stress, anxiety or depression, why it’s there and what its function is. You are supposed to get stress, anxiety and depression, but you’re not supposed to medicate them or manage them. They are a signal from your system telling you to stand back, have a look at your life and change something.
  • Next up is Self Esteem. Very few people are genuinely comfortable in their own skin and virtually everybody is worried about what other people think of them; in fact, we’re brought up to worry about that. Actually with the right teaching, Self Esteem, loving who you are, is perfectly within the reach of everybody and stress, anxiety and depression become so much easier to deal with and eliminate with it. To gain Self Esteem you simply need to be able to learn and to talk to somebody about how you feel about yourself, without any fear of judgement.
  • Finally, since no one else, or indeed medication, can make the changes for you, Self Belief and Self Empowerment are essential. They can also be learned.

So The Mark Newey Method is about teaching and coaching:

  • to give you the understanding of what you need to change in your life
  • how to find and love the real you
  • and finally to empower you to go and make the changes.

I genuinely believe we can beat stress, anxiety and depression in a generation…because there is another way.

The walls of stigma on mental health issues are just starting to come down but there’s a long, long way to go. There’s far more work to do on making it OK to talk about our issues.

The next step is to introduce mental health education in schools. Indeed I’m considering campaigning for a compulsory GCSE in Life Skills, which would include mental health, relationships, money management and entrepreneurship.

Doctors and teachers are working with their hands effectively tied behind their backs when it comes to mental health, because the system in both cases is catastrophically out of date. Politicians seem to be motivated by one thing: to get re-elected in 5 years. So it’s up to us.

And that’s why over the last 12 months, I’ve taken the 17 years of unique knowledge gained from my own personal experience of breakdown and from the experience of thousands of my clients and developed The Liberation Programme, an online therapeutic education and coaching programme that will equip you to beat stress, anxiety and depression for good.

On my website:, you’ll finsd lots more details on the Programme.


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