People with anxiety, depression or other problems can be prevented from fully participating in society and enjoying life. Yet they may have no help at all, have to wait for help or be on medication that would become unnecessary if they had access to a trained professional to talk about their problems and feelings.
Newcastle University and the Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Trust, have teamed up to launch the Government-funded Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) initiative, which will provide more trained psychological therapists to talk with patients about their problems and help many of them toward recovery.
At this stage, the type of talking therapy provided will be cognitive-behavioural therapy, although the intention is to expand this to include other evidence-based talking therapies in the future.
Initially the programme is creating 40 posts, based mainly at GP surgeries and clinics, in North and South Tyneside. The University will expand its existing training courses and, together with NHS North East (the Strategic Health Authority), has already recruited its first cohort of additional students.
The IAPT initiative is being rolled out across the country after research showed that many people who were on medication would be better off receiving talking therapy instead.
The Government will invest £173 million in talking therapies in an ambitious national programme including the training of an extra 3,600 psychological therapists over the next three years.
This is expected to mean that 900,000 more people nationally will be treated for depression and anxiety and 450,000 of them are likely to recover completely. It is estimated that 25,000 fewer people with mental health problems will be on sick pay and benefits.
Professor Mark Freeston, a clinical psychologist at Newcastle University, who is involved in the North East initiative, said: ‘Many people with common psychological illnesses are unknown to the NHS and struggle on at home, coping as best they can. Many others have been put on long-term medication to help them cope.
‘We now know that talking therapy can be highly effective. As this becomes widely available, more people will be able to get the help they need and many of those that are on medication may not need it any more.’
The initiative was formally launched on Thursday, 27 November. Training started on Friday 28 November, when the first cohort of students sponsored by NHS North East took up post with the Primary Care Trusts.
Over the next few years, other training providers and health care organisations are expected to become involved in the national scheme, providing access to therapists for people living in other parts of the region.
published on: 28th November 2008