• Germany edition
 
Beer as good as therapy for some: health boss
Photo: DPA

Beer as good as therapy for some: health boss

Published: 07 Nov 2013 11:13 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Nov 2013 11:13 GMT+01:00

One of Germany's most powerful healthcare officials has made waves by saying that some psychological problems could be treated as well with a beer as with therapy.

Josef Hecken is chairman of the Federal Joint Committee (GBA), the body which decides what treatments are offered by the statutory health system.

Generally GBA meetings are dry, specialist affairs, where representatives from doctors' associations, statutory health insurers and hospitals discuss what treatments are effective for patients and value for money.

But eyebrows were raised when Hecken recently declared that not "every second" person needed psychotherapy - and that a beer would sometimes do the job. The Tagesspiegel newspaper reported that the comment was recorded in official notes of the meeting.

Hecken made the remark during a debate over calls for more psychotherapists to be included in statutory healthcare provision.

And although he later said his comments were "unfortunate" - this was only because they could be misunderstood.

It was not his intention to "make light of psychiatric illness, or to describe the use of alcohol as an effective alternative to psychotherapeutic treatment.

But he said he wanted to say that, "personally I do not see every disorder such as for example having occasional problems getting to sleep, as pathological condition in need of immediate treatment - rather I think that sometimes the old home cure of a bottle of warm beer can help."

He said it was clear to him that people in Germany often have to wait for months for therapy for conditions far more serious than having trouble getting to sleep.

Yet his comments have upset those in the psychiatric professions, the Tagesspiegel reported.

A letter of protest is being circulated among practicing psychotherapists, the paper said, which says, "You make light, and ignore the needs of our patients with your bottle of beer metaphor, and subtly stigmatize people with severe psychiatric disorders."

Chairman of the German association of psychotherapists, Dieter Best, said Hecken's beer suggestion was a serious faux pas, particularly in light of the link between depression and alcohol dependency.

What was even worse, Best told the Tagesspiegel, was Hecken's comment that it had been a "cardinal error" to allow access to psychotherapy without a doctor's prescription. Before this change, made back in 1999, many people with psychiatric illnesses had not received the necessary therapy, but had been simply tranquilized by their doctors, said Best.

READ MORE: Scrapping fee sends more to dentists

For more stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
April wraps up with stormy week ahead
Lightning over Lake Starnberg, in Bavaria. Photo: DPA

April wraps up with stormy week ahead

The end of April is looking stormy for Germany with hot and cold air mixing and making for wild spring weather over the coming few days, state forecasters DWD said on Wednesday. READ () »

Germany sold €40 million of arms to Russia
Russian troops pictured in March in Crimea. Photo: DPA

Germany sold €40 million of arms to Russia

German arms sales to Russia have come under fire following the crisis in Ukraine. In 2012 Germany sold €40 million worth of rifles, pistols and armoured vehicles to the country. READ () »

Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel
Photo: Nieto Sobejano Architects, Berlin

Munich to get 'Tetris cube' hotel

Munich's old city centre is to receive an ultra modern addition to its skyline in the shape of a new hotel dubbed 'the Tetris cube'. READ () »

The Local List
German beer culture in 11 gulps
Photo: DPA

German beer culture in 11 gulps

Wednesday marks the 498th anniversary of Germany's celebrated beer purity law, so in honour of nearly half a millennium of hoppy history, this week's Local List tells some beer truths you may not know. READ () »

Feminist's apartment advert goes viral
Photo: Screenshot/Facebook

Feminist's apartment advert goes viral

Finding accommodation in Berlin is notoriously tricky. But one woman on the hunt might have a particularly hard time of it, with an advert for an apartment so absurd it has gone viral. READ () »

Russian spies step up activity in Germany
The Russian embassy building in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Russian spies step up activity in Germany

Russian spies are increasingly targeting potential informants in German politics and business by taking them out to dinner, according to counterintelligence services. READ () »

Jobless benefits to get leaner and meaner
Photo: DPA

Jobless benefits to get leaner and meaner

The German government is planning a shake-up of the country’s unemployment benefit system, Hartz IV, by introducing stricter rules on claimants in a move which supporters say will cut bureaucracy. READ () »

Germany's oldest woman dies aged 112
Gertrud Henze. Photo: DPA

Germany's oldest woman dies aged 112

Germany’s oldest woman died at the age of 112 on Tuesday. Gertrud Henze was born on December 8th 1901 and joked her long life was down to never getting married. READ () »

Exchange student 'murderer' stays silent
Police search the area near where Gabriele's body was found in October 2013. Photo: DPA

Exchange student 'murderer' stays silent

The alleged murderer of an exchange student in southern Germany stayed silent in the dock on Tuesday on the first day of his trial. READ () »

European Elections 2014
'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'
Hans-Olaf Henkel (r) celebrates the one-year anniversary of the AfD with leader Bernd Lücke. Photo: DPA

'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'

In an interview with The Local, one of the leaders of Germany's eurosceptic party talks about Europe's future, why Britain is a model country and why he will not work with UKIP's Nigel Farage. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
Interview with AfD - 'If Britain goes, Europe is lost'
Photo: DPA
National
Police damage own water cannon with eggs
Photo: DPA
National
Let us start work later after World Cup nights, unions says
Photo: DPA
Society
Crystal meth use hits record level
Photo: DPA
Rhineland
Elderly man taped €200,000 to his genitals
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
What's the unemployment rate in your area of Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Advertisement:
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,051
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd