More being helped by talking therapies on NHS

More people with anxiety and depression are gaining access to NHS talking therapies in England, official data show

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More people with anxiety and depression are gaining access to NHS talking therapies in England, official data show.

NHS Digital findings also show waiting times have decreased and recovery rates have improved, with NHS England praising the Increasing Access to Talking Therapies (IAPT) programme.

The number of people who started treatment increased to 965,379 in 2016-17, up from 953,522 in 2015-16.

Chances of recovering

NHS England national mental health director and nurse Claire Murdoch said: ‘Talking therapists in the NHS helped nearly one million people last year, and not only are more patients getting help more quickly, but their chances of recovering, thanks to NHS support, are improving significantly.

'However, we are not complacent. Mental health services have for too long been neglected, so even with significant extra funding of more than £1 billion over five years, raising standards of care to a consistently high level will take further years of hard work and continued investment.’

The latest statistics revealed:

  • The number of people waiting less than six weeks for treatment increased from 82.1% in 2015-16 to 87.5% in 2016-17.
  • 98.2% people waited less than 18 weeks for treatment in 2016-17 compared with 96.3% the year previous.
  • 49.3% of people who started treatment moved to recovery in 2016-17 compared to 46.3% in 2015-16.
  • The number of new referrals to NHS England services fell from 1,399,088 in 2015/16 to 1,391,360 in 2016-17.

Significant impact

RCN professional lead for mental health Catherine Gamble welcomed the NHS Digital figures as 'a bright light in a dark tunnel'.

She added: 'There is reliable evidence that indicates IAPT has a significant impact on the symptoms of depression and anxiety. What is rarely acknowledged is that much of the research to evaluate its impact has been led by eminent mental health nurse research colleagues.

‘Indeed, little credence is given to the expertise and skills mental health nurses could bring to ensure these interventions become routinely accessible.

‘Proactively involving the profession could make a significant difference.’

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