Only 400 therapists have been trained out of the 3,600 needed for the scheme
A flagship government strategy to train an army of therapists to get the nation off antidepressants and into work could be dramatically scaled back amid claims it is experiencing problems.
The government claims the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (Iapt) programme will treat 900,000 people and help about half of them to make a full recovery. It also aims to get 25,000 people suffering from anxiety and depression off sick pay and benefits by 2010/11.
Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which helps people challenge negative thought patterns, the programme, which will run until 2011, has been heavily promoted by the government as an antidote to "Sicknote Britain".
Around 15% of the population suffers from depression or anxiety. The two cost the UK taxpayer some £12bn a year and some million people are off work and claiming benefits because of mental health problems. Professor Lord Richard Layard, a former government adviser whose 2006 report on depression was instrumental in establishing the programme, has claimed that, after fewer than 16 CBT sessions, at least half of people with depression or clinical anxiety will see significant improvement in their mental health.