General Election 2015: Talking therapies

Voices of Mind speaking out about talking therapies

When you’re living with a mental health problem, waiting too long for therapy can have a hugely negative impact on your life. It can damage relationships, stop you working and have long-lasting effects on your mental health.

Does your MP know how long people are waiting in your area for talking therapies? Email them today. Get them to take action.

What you need to know

If you experience a mental health problem, getting the right type of talking therapy as early as possible can make a huge difference to your recovery and prevent you from becoming more ill.

We know excellent talking therapy services exist and the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme has helped millions access treatment. However, people are still waiting far too long for talking therapies and demand is rising.

Over 40 per cent of people have to wait over three months just to find out if they can get treatment. Shockingly, 1 in 10 people have to wait more than a year. This isn’t good enough.

Waiting so long for treatment can damage relationships, stop you working and have long-lasting effects on your mental health. We found that while waiting for treatment:

  • 68 per cent of people said they became more unwell
  • 40 per cent harmed themselves
  • and 1 in 6 attempted to take their own life

Currently there is no right to access for talking therapies or any waiting times standards. We would not accept this for physical health.

Different therapies work well for different people. When you need help, it’s crucial that you can choose the type of therapy that’s right for you. Unfortunately, we found 56 per cent of people weren’t offered any choice.

People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, those with severe mental health problems, and older and young people find it even harder to access talking therapies on the NHS.

In coalition with our We Need to Talk partners, we’re calling on the next government to ensure the NHS in England offers a full range of evidence-based psychological therapies to everyone who needs them within 28 days of requesting a referral. This should be even sooner if you’re in a mental health crisis.

Take action

To make someone wait six months for therapy is just really cruel

We believe you shouldn’t have to wait any longer than 28 days to get the therapy you need. Even less if you’re having a mental health crisis.

This is an issue your MP can’t ignore. They need to make access to talking therapies a top policy issue going into the General Election.

For MPs, candidates and policy makers

Too many of your constituents are waiting too long for talking therapies.

Treating mental health problems earlier brings wider social and economic benefits, such as lower costs for the NHS and reduced unemployment.

Investing in talking therapies has been shown to deliver significant health and economic benefits.

If people with mental health problems are treated earlier, they are less likely to require crisis care services later, which ultimately saves the NHS money.

This can only become reality by investing in talking therapies, to meet rising demand, and introducing maximum waiting time standards.

This is an issue you can’t ignore. Your party needs to make access to talking therapies a top policy issue going into the General Election.

Read our briefing on talking therapies.

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