• 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

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)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
German of the Week
This professor is Putin's favourite German
A photo of Haag by Russian news agency TASS.

This professor is Putin's favourite German

If you read reports from Russian media, you might be forgiven for thinking that Professor Professor Lorenz Haag from Chemnitz (so well-qualified he gets the title twice) is a titan of academia. READ  

Jihadist caught on German shopping trip
The man came from Syria for the shopping trip which included a visit to Aldi. Photo: DPA

Jihadist caught on German shopping trip

An alleged jihadist will go on trial in Stuttgart next week after being caught on a shopping trip to pick up goods for Islamic fighters in Syria. READ  

Kidnapped German 'rescued' in Nigeria
Photo: DPA

Kidnapped German 'rescued' in Nigeria

UPDATE: A German national who was kidnapped by gunmen last Friday in southwest Nigeria has been released, police said on Thursday. READ  

Fall of the Wall - 25 years
See how Berlin has changed since Wall fell
The East Side gallery in Friedrichshain. Photo: DPA

See how Berlin has changed since Wall fell

Germany is gearing up to celebrate 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th 1989. The city has changed more than any other in Europe in that time, as these 11 photos of scenes from then and now show. READ  

Conservatives agree on foreigner road toll
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt. Photo: DPA

Conservatives agree on foreigner road toll

UPDATE: Germany's conservative alliance has finally agreed to charge foreign motorway users a toll and hopes to raise €500 million a year, but critics say their plan isn't roadworthy. READ  

Court gives Autobahn shooter ten years' jail
The Autobahn shooter faces judges at the beginning of his trial in August. Photo: DPA

Court gives Autobahn shooter ten years' jail

A trucker who fired hundreds of bullets at vehicles and drivers on German motorways for years was sentenced to ten and a half years in prison on Thursday. READ  

Soldiers get more cash and flexi-time
The Bundeswehr hopes the reforms will make it a more attractive employer. Photo: DPA

Soldiers get more cash and flexi-time

Germany's military hopes to become the most attractive employer in the country with better pay and more part-time work in a series of reforms agreed by ministers on Wednesday. READ  

Strikes cost Lufthansa €170 million
A passenger waits at Düsseldorf Airport which was hit by a Lufthansa strike last Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Strikes cost Lufthansa €170 million

Lufthansa, Europe's biggest airline, cut its profit forecast for 2015 on Thursday and said a series of pilot strikes in Germany this year had cost it €170 million. READ  

Fall of the Wall - 25 years
'Little Berlin' remembers fall of its wall
Tractors not tanks at Mödlareuth on the Bavaria-Thuringia border. Photo: DPA

'Little Berlin' remembers fall of its wall

Germany, November 1989: Snow falls as an excited crowd breaks through the Wall and people tearfully embrace loved ones after decades of living apart. But this is Mödlareuth - population 50 - not Berlin. READ  

Police in manslaughter trial over woman's death
The two policemen (pixelated) and their lawyers in court. Photo: DPA

Police in manslaughter trial over woman's death

Two policemen in western Germany are on trial for manslaughter for allegedly standing by as a woman was gunned down by her husband. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Want to study in Germany? These are the subjects to choose
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles from British Airways
Photo: DPA
Society
Germans are wide of the mark on immigration
Photo: DPA
Society
Halloween: Where are the spookiest spots?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Who wants to work in Germany? A third of the world
Photo: DPA
Society
'We can't allow a proxy war on German streets'
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: How well do you know Germany?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

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

3,532
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd