• 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
Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m
Rainer Schwarz at a court hearing in September into the case. Photo: DPA

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m

The man who was blamed for Berlin's miserable attempt to build a new airport must be paid more than €1 million - after being fired. READ  

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kurds watching the attack on Kobane. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pressed UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to bring possible poison gas use by Isis in Iraq before the Security Council. READ  

Spring back in German consumers' step?
Photo: DPA

Spring back in German consumers' step?

Update: Consumer confidence in Germany has stopped falling, as households appear to be no longer fazed by concerns about the economic fallout from geopolitical crises, a new poll found on Friday. READ  

Ludwigshafen explosion kills one, injures 26
An eyewitness captured the moment of the explosion on their phone. Photo: DPA

Ludwigshafen explosion kills one, injures 26

UPDATE: One person has died and 26 others are injured after a huge explosion in Ludwigshafen, western Germany on Thursday. READ  

Germany has just ten Ebola beds
Photo: DPA

Germany has just ten Ebola beds

Doctors at high-level infectious disease clinics say that caring for patients with the Ebola virus is much more intensive than they first thought, meaning they can handle fewer cases at once. READ  

Refugee Crisis
Now Berlin turns to tents to house refugees
A refugee protests on the roof of the former Gerhart Hauptmann School in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Now Berlin turns to tents to house refugees

Berlin has turned to huge tents and shipping containers to shelter growing numbers of refugees. With winter approaching, city politicians have called on the federal government for help. READ  

Clueless Merkel forgets the F-word
Merkel suffers from Wortfindungsstörung at the IT summit in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

Clueless Merkel forgets the F-word

Angela Merkel's government is often criticized for its lack of understanding of all things digital and an appearance by the chancellor in Hamburg, which was supposed to change those perceptions, has only made things worse. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
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

3,528
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd