• 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

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
Germany debates scrapping coal power
Photo: DPA

Germany debates scrapping coal power

After deciding to scrap nuclear power, Germany is pondering saying goodbye to coal, its biggest energy source but also its top polluter and main threat to ambitious climate goals. READ  

Hitler painting goes under the hammer
Photo: DPA

Hitler painting goes under the hammer

A watercolour painted by a young Adolf Hitler a century ago went under the hammer for €130,000 ($161,000) Saturday at an auction in the southern German city of Nuremberg. READ  

Germany to drop probe into US spying on Merkel
Photo: DPA

Germany to drop probe into US spying on Merkel

Germany is dropping a probe into the alleged tapping of Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone by US spies, due to a lack of evidence, magazine Focus said Saturday. READ  

German FM: Iran nuclear talks 'completely open'
Photo: DPA

German FM: Iran nuclear talks 'completely open'

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Saturday that the outcome of Iran's nuclear talks with six world powers was "completely open". READ  

New bird flu case in Germany
Photo: DPA

New bird flu case in Germany

A worrying new strain of bird flu has been observed for the first time in a wild bird in northern Germany, the agriculture ministry said Saturday. READ  

Anti-foreigner protesters rally in Berlin
Photo: DPA

Anti-foreigner protesters rally in Berlin

About 500 protesters, among them neo-Nazis and angry local residents, protested in the German capital on Saturday against the construction of a centre for refugees seeking political asylum. READ  

Radicalized Germans join jihadist cause
Iraqi fighters near Tikrit. Photo: DPA

Radicalized Germans join jihadist cause

Hundreds of Germans have left their home country to fight alongside jihadists in Syria and Iraq, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. READ  

Germany frees female Russian spy early
Photo: DPA

Germany frees female Russian spy early

A Russian spy, jailed in Germany with her husband last year, has been freed early and allowed to return home, media reports said Friday, suggesting a possible prisoner swap. READ  

Germans face flogging after Singapore charge
Andreas Van Knorre being transported by Singapore police. Photo: Wallace Woon/DPA

Germans face flogging after Singapore charge

Two German men were charged Saturday with breaking into a Singapore metro depot and spray-painting graffiti on a train, offences punishable by jail time and flogging with a cane. READ  

Last-minute lawsuit filed over Nazi-era art hoard
The Museum of Fine Arts in Bern. Photo: Gian Ehrenzeller/DPA

Last-minute lawsuit filed over Nazi-era art hoard

A relative of late German art collector Cornelius Gurlitt lodged a claim Friday for his inheritance, a Nazi-era art hoard which he has bequested to a Swiss museum, a spokesman said. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Win your Christmas list: €250 at Marks & Spencer
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Sponsored Article
Ever wanted to try out home exchange?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Tonight we're gonna party like it's 1989
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
National
Which city is the worst for car crashes?
Photo: DPA
National
The folly of the foreigner road charge
Photo: DPA
National
The man who stopped Germany's trains
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
How to replace retiring baby boomers
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
Finger slicer's insurance scam fails
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Want to study in Germany? These are the subjects to choose
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,226
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists
Click here for the full job description
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd