Is Trichotillomania Treated by the NHS?



A recent article in the Daily Mail highlighted the interesting anomaly that while Trichotillomania is recognised as a condition by the NHS, only free behavioural therapy, specifically CBT, is available on the NHS. Little help is offered with physical appearance. In most areas of the UK sufferers are left to pay for their own wigs, systems or extensions.

There are two schools of thought on this. One is that there is no point in offering help with physical appearance if sufferers just carry on pulling (and even sabotaging) the replacement hair. The other is that having to pay for hair replacement themselves, making financial sacrifices in other areas of life to do so, aids the treatment process as sufferers are psychologically less likely to damage what they have had to pay for.

Both theories smack of a somewhat unhelpful element of ‘blaming’ and even penalising the sufferer for their condition, but it would be interesting to know if there is any truth in either of these theories or if they are simply an excuse not to help those with Trichotillomania. It would also be interesting to find out how effective CBT is when compared to other psychological treatments.

However with would-be models able to blag breast enhancements free on the NHS to boost their career prospects it is about time the NHS started deciding what it does and doesn’t treat and what does and doesn’t constitute a purely cosmetic condition. However harsh, it is at least easier to accept treatment decisions when they are fair and consistent across the country rather than a postcode lottery.

Meantime a warm welcome, along with a sympathetic ear and expert help, is waiting for trichotillomania sufferers at Aspiration Hair. We also run the Aspiration Hair Foundation to help those who cannot afford to pay for their own hair replacement.