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Talking therapies improving mental health recovery rates

12:00am | & Health

NHS “talking therapies” are proving successful in treating mental illness, with new data showing a record number of people making a recovery over the past year.

“Talking therapy” is an umbrella term covering a wide range of psychological therapies which involve a person talking to a therapist to work through their problems. Different types of talking therapy suit different conditions or different people. Just a few of the issues which talking therapies can help with include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, phobias, anger management, bereavement counselling and many more.

Left untreated, these conditions can cause serious problems including, in some cases, physical symptoms or serious behavioural issues. The evolution of talking therapies and their wider availability is proving pivotal in addressing such conditions. According to a just-published annual report on NHS England’s “Improving Access to Talking Therapies” (IAPT) programme, half of people completing a course of treatment recovered from their condition.

Published by NHS Digital, the review states that 1.4 million people were referred for IAPT during 2016/17, with more patients getting care within six weeks compared to the year before. The 49.3% of people making a recovery is a 7% increase on 2012/13, when records for this service began.

The NHS Digital report covers the last full year for which data is available, but since then there have been further improvements, with more than half of people making a recovery following IAPT in every calendar month of 2017.

In more detail, the NHS Digital report shows that in the last full year, 2016/17:

  • 525,000 people were referred for and completed a course of talking therapy treatment.
  • 49.3% of people completing IAPT treatment for anxiety or depression recovered from their condition.
  • Waiting times for IAPT have improved, with 98.2% of people getting care within 18 weeks and nearly nine in ten starting treatment within six weeks.

The latest figures have been welcomed by the NHS’s Director of Mental Health, Claire Murdoch, who said: “More people are getting faster access to increasingly effective NHS mental health care. On key measures like rising funding, high recovery rates, lower waiting times and increased referral numbers, NHS talking therapies are delivering better outcomes for adults with mental ill health.

“The NHS is reversing years of under-investment in mental health, with £1.6 billion extra funding going into local services since 2013. Putting mental health on a level footing with physical care remains a priority for NHS England, and from April this year every part of the country will be required to increase the share of their budgets going towards mental health care.

“No one would claim that the transformation we all want to see will happen overnight, but with a rising number of people getting successful treatment for common conditions like depression and anxiety, it’s clear that we are making important progress.”

According to the NHS, one in four of us will have problems with our mental health at some point in our lives. It also acknowledges that, in the past, mental health has been ‘under-treated’ compared to physical conditions and provision of high quality mental health services has been patchy. However, NHS England is striving to resolve those issues through its “Improving Access to Talking Therapies” programmes, which is delivering clear and measurable improvements.

If you are suffering problems with your mental health, the key thing is not to bottle it up, but instead treat it like you would a physical illness and seek the appropriate medical help. For more information about NHS talking therapies, click here.

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