Government pledge extra therapists for mental illness


Tuesday 13th October, 2009

By March 2010, 75% of the country should have access to ‘talking therapies’ for mental health problems, ministers have said.

The multi-million pound strategy should boost the number of cognitive behavioural therapists in England practising within the NHS.

The government pledged £173m back in 2007 in the hope of reducing the numbers off work and those requiring benefits to support themselves because of mental illness.

An estimated six million people in the UK are suffering with depression and/or anxiety causing over 91 million lost working days each year.

The scheme called ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ (IAPT) aims to treat 900,000 people by 2010/11 and by March of 2010, 115 NHS trusts will have a programme in place.

Care services minister Phil Hope said: “The talking therapy services that are already up and running have been very successful, with 73,000 people entering treatment and 1,500 more therapists being employed under the scheme”.

Sophie Corlett, director of external relations at mental health charity ‘Mind’, was confident that the scheme was on track but warned against complacency.

“There’s still a lot more work to be done and any changes in funding could seriously jeopardise the programme’s future,” she said.

The NHS is under financial pressure and there being no ring-fence around IAPT funding could leave mental health budgets vulnerable to being raided by local health trusts, to plug the gaps elsewhere.”

Long waiting lists and delays were still apparent outside of the CBT course offered through the NHS.

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