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The figures, from NHS England’s mental health ‘dashboard’, highlight the proportion of CCGs meeting and missing their targets when it comes to increasing access to talking therapies.
The latest data show that nearly 6 in 10 CCGs (57 per cent) are failing to meet the target for the proportion of people in their area that should be accessing talking therapies. 120 out of 209 CCGs in England missed the target for the period October-December 2016. The annual target is currently set at 15.8 per cent of the local population who have been identified as being able to benefit from talking therapies. The target is set to rise to 25 per cent by the year 2021.
These data specifically focus on therapies available through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme – a scheme designed to increase accessibility of talking treatments to those identified as potentially benefitting from receiving them. Typically this includes people with common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety disorder.
Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations, said:
“Talking therapies play a vitally important role for many people who have mental health problems, enabling them to get their lives back on track and preventing their problems becoming worse. We have seen talking therapy services set up across the country in recent years and access to services has improved, but we can’t afford to let up the pace of change as currently only around 15 per cent of people who could benefit get access. We have a national target of increasing this to 25 per cent by 2021, but the data from NHS England shows that nearly three in five Clinical Commissioning Groups missed the interim target set for October-December last year. It’s important to keep up momentum and make sure all local areas are on track to meet that 25 per cent target over the coming years.
“Mental health services have been woefully underfunded for years. Thanks to anti-stigma campaigns and movements like Heads Together and Times to Change, there’s less of a taboo when it comes to mental health, but as more people come forward and seek help, it’s vital that quality timely services are in place to meet increasing demand. There has been recent national investment, which is welcome, but we need to see that investment making a difference locally. No matter where you live in the country, we want to see everyone access the help they need, when they need it.
“For too long, people accessing mental health services have not had the same right to timely treatment that we all expect if we have a physical health problem. One of the recommendations to come out of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health was to ensure that data was routinely made available to provide a clear picture of the state of mental health services. The Government accepted these recommendations and, now that these figures are available, we are able to see exactly where in the country they are falling down and hold those responsible for their delivery – CCGs - to account.”
An NHS England spokesperson said:
“The NHS now has the biggest programme for talking therapies in the world – more people are receiving mental health care than ever before, with nearly 80,000 people entering treatment each month. Huge strides forward have been made, but there is much more work to do to drive further improvements to ensure the right care is available across the country at the right time.”
Annika is 32 and has Major Depressive Disorder and anxiety disorders. She works in Manchester and lives in Derbyshire. About a year ago, she self-referred through her local NHS Foundation Trust but was only offered CBT over the phone, over computer or in a group – none of which were appropriate. She had hoped to be offered face-to-face therapy. Then again, earlier this year, she tried to access Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) – a talking treatment that she had been told she could benefit from, but couldn’t.
She says: “I wanted to start a course of Interpersonal Therapy but following a GP referral to Mental Health Services I received another request to self-refer. Knowing I'd be offered CBT again, I just gave up. I think this is really bad, leaving people without support, especially when you consider that the North West has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. It’s really important that anyone struggling with their mental health is offered a range of quality talking therapies, when they need them, in the same way that you’d receive treatment within a short space of time if you had a physical health problem.”
Laura is 34 and lives in Wiltshire. She has a mood disorder. Working full time in a highly stressful job while also being a Mum to two young children led her to experience a mental health breakdown in October 2016. She says: “Things became unmanageable and I was behaving dangerously, my mind was racing, I felt like I was in control but it was the complete opposite- I was promiscuous and drinking so much that I ended up in A&E. My husband knew something was wrong and encouraged me to see my GP. I was prescribed antidepressants and referred to a support worker, psychiatric services, and had a face-to-face assessment with an IAPT therapist. After a 6-8 week period of being monitored, I was finally told that I likely had Bipolar disorder, something I’d always suspected, and that I could benefit from a certain type of Digital Therapy. I felt relieved until I was told there were no therapists available on the NHS, so I’d have to pay for it privately. Even more frustratingly, there would probably be a waiting list, as there was only one therapist in the whole of Wiltshire who delivers it.
“Having already spent £550 on private therapy, I decided not to pay for this therapy. I’m currently volunteering as a secretary at a local preschool. With a family to support and no salary, that’s just not an option. I’m still taking medication and practicing lots of self-management techniques, such as baking, exercising, and spending time with my two girls. But I do feel I would be able to manage better if I was able to access the therapy that’s been recommended to treat my condition. The treatment you receive shouldn’t depend where you live.”
Access to talking therapies Mental health services