Rising use of psychotropic drugs spurs awareness campaign

One in four Belgians, almost 3 million patients, took medication intended for treating mental disorders in 2022, the Federal Public Service (FPS) Public Health reported on Monday. To curb this "alarming" increase, Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke is launching an awareness campaign for healthcare providers to promote a more responsible use of such treatments.

In just five years, the number of psychopharmaceuticals prescribed has risen by almost 70 per cent, with sleeping pills and sedatives the most common, followed by anti-depressants. Although these drugs are necessary in certain cases, their use without proper monitoring can lead to addiction.

Personalised treatment

The new campaign aims to refer patients to other treatments first, without medication. It also aims to remind doctors of the need for personalised treatment with psychotropic drugs and the need to develop a treatment plan with different healthcare providers.

A new element is the cooperation between general practitioners, pharmacists and, for the first time, psychologists. Through this collaboration, the government aims to raise awareness among all stakeholders and ensure greater transparency in patient care.

A website has been set up where professionals can find information on how to be more aware when using psychiatric drugs. In addition, restrictive measures may be taken in future, such as a reduction in the number of available drugs or the purchase of individual products.


Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS

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