New report shows we still need to talk
A new report released today by Mind for the We Need To Talk coalition (1) has called on the Government to fulfil its promise to make psychological therapies available across the country to people who need them.
The report found that the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) scheme has had a dramatic impact on waiting times for people with depression and anxiety. However across England 1 in 5 people are still waiting over a year to access psychological therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or counselling. This is despite respondents to Mind's survey reporting that access to the right therapy at the right time had a significant impact on their ability to return to work (2).
Access to psychological therapies for children and for people with severe mental illnesses remains limited despite good evidence of their effectiveness. As the Government puts the final touches to the Comprehensive Spending Review, the coalition is urging investment in a full range of evidence based psychological therapies to all who need them, within 28 days of requesting referral.
Mind's research found:
- 1 in 5 people are waiting over 1 year between asking for help and receiving treatment and 1 in 10 have to wait over 2 years.
- People waiting 3 months or less from assessment to therapy were over twice as likely to be happy with their treatment as those waiting 10-11 months.
- Those waiting less than 3 months from assessment to treatment were almost 5 times more likely to report that therapy helped them get back to work than those waiting between 1 and 2 years.
- 68% were not offered any choice of therapy.
- People offered a choice were 3 times more likely to be happy with their treatment than those who wanted a choice but didn't get it.
- People offered a choice were 5 times as likely to report that therapy definitely helped them back to work as those who were not.
Mental distress costs the economy in England over £105 billion each year (3) and talking treatments have been shown to be a successful and cost effective way to treat a wide range of mental and physical health problems. Since the introduction of the IAPT scheme in 2007 the availability of therapy has improved significantly and the number of people receiving talking treatments has increased. IAPT services are now available to people with depression and anxiety in more than half of England.
Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:
"Giving someone who is experiencing mental distress access to the right therapy at the right time can make a tremendous difference to their life and prevent them from developing more severe problems further down the line. Access to timely psychological therapies can also deliver economic savings, for example by reducing wider societal costs such as unemployment. Given the link between economic downturns and increases in mental health problems it is now, more than ever, vital that further investment is made in this area.
The Government has made a commitment to choice in its health White Paper, and a promise to improve access to talking therapies. The upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review is their opportunity to demonstrate that they are serious about both. The last few years have seen significant progress in this area, but there is still a long way to go. The Government must ensure that the good work of IAPT is built upon and expanded."
Jenny has bipolar disorder and also developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the birth of her son. Whilst waiting for therapy she tried to take her own life and ended up on a psychiatric mother and baby unit where she received the help she needed, but this stopped when she left hospital. Jenny did eventually receive CBT but did not feel this dealt with her PTSD; she has recently been told she will have to wait another twelve months before she receives the psychotherapy she needs. She says:
"Having to wait for therapy and not getting the help I needed nearly caused me to lose my life. It exacerbated the despair and it exacerbated the hopelessness I was feeling. I didn't bond with my son for 10 months and I feel so sad that I've lost that early part of his life. I've lost a year and a half of my own life, I've had to give up a job and a career that I loved and I've had to give up my financial stability now that I'm on benefits.
I just don't feel like myself anymore - to be honest I wouldn't know how to introduce myself to new people. If I lived just one county next door I'd have all the support I need. It's just not on offer where I live."