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NHS talking therapies for mental health hit a high with 1.4 million referrals

Published on 05/12/17 at 09:39am

New data has revealed that the number of UK patients seeking talking therapies on the NHS is on the rise, with 1.4 million new referrals and 965,000 people starting treatment in 2016/17 – an increase of 32,000 on the previous year.

The drive comes as a result of the NHS England’s Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, which was originally launched in 2008 to tackle common conditions such as depression and anxiety. This approach aims to identify and treat mental health disorders early, avoiding the need for costly interventions at a later stage.

The data also indicate that waiting times are falling and recovery rates improving: 88% of patients waited less than 18 weeks to receive treatment, and 90% in less than six. Over 50% made a recovery in every month of the year, , while 65% of patients showed “reliable improvement”. Additionally, 567,000 people finished their course of therapy, which was 30,000 higher than the year before.

“Ever increasing numbers of people are getting treated by the NHS and recovering from mental ill health,” commented Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s National Director for Mental Health. “Talking therapists in the NHS helped nearly one million people last year, and not only are more patients getting help more quickly, but their chances of recovering, thanks to NHS support, are improving significantly.

“However, we are not complacent,” she continued. “Mental health services have for too long been neglected, so even with significant extra funding of more than £1bn over five years, raising standards of care to a consistently high level will take further years of hard work and continued investment.”

Matt Fellows

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