NHS Talking Therapies for anxiety and depression

NHS Talking Therapies (for anxiety and depression) . This programme was previously called Improving Access to Psychological Therapies. Its a national NHS programme across England, offering National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) approved interventions to treat people with depression and anxiety disorders.

NHS Talking Therapies were  fundamental to the implementation of the mental health strategy, ‘No health without mental health’ and is central to the NHS strategy of improving waiting times and achieving parity of esteem with physical health as outlined in the Five year Forward View and Achieving Better Access to Mental Health by 2020 and further supported by commitment to continue the expansion of the program in the NHS Long Term Plan

Why this matters

By integrating NHS Talking Therapy services with physical health services we can provide better support to people with long term conditions and achieve better outcomes, such as better compliance with medication and improved recovery rates. There are benefits to patients with depression and anxiety disorders from earlier access to psychological therapies. They have better recovery rates. Older people (65+) have better recovery rates than the general population so ensuring that there is good access for this age group will improve recovery rates across Greater Manchester. Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are under-represented in these services and therefore Black, Asian and minority ethnic populations in Greater Manchester will benefit from improved access and recovery

Our aims

National priorities for service development are:

  • Expanding services so that 1.9m adults access treatment each year by 2024
  • Focusing on people with long term conditions. Two thirds of people with a common mental health problem also have a long term physical health problem. This greatly increases the cost of their care by an average of 45% more than those without a mental health problem. By integrating NHS Talking Therapy services with physical health services the NHS can provide better support to this group of people and achieve better outcomes
  • Supporting people to find or stay in work. Good work contributes to good mental health, and NHS Talking Therapy services can better contribute to improved employment outcomes
  • Improving quality and people’s experience of services. Improving the numbers of people who recover, reducing geographic variation between services, and reducing inequalities in access and outcomes for particular population groups are all important aspects of the development of NHS Talking Therapy services

Where we are now

 We’re working towards improving access rates by investing more in services and by looking at the way we’re delivering services e.g. commissioning of SilverCloud as a digital therapy offer across Greater Manchester

  • Organisations in Greater Manchester who provide and commission services are working closely with education providers and national and regional representatives through a Greater Manchester steering group and a workforce group. These groups are identifying opportunities and themes where we can work together to improve services for patients in Greater Manchester.
  • We’ve produced guidance on access for Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and on Long term conditions provision
  • We’re operating a Greater Manchester centralised recruitment process to ensure more places for trainee NHS Talking Therapy practitioners are filled and improve retention of trainees following completion of training.
  • Since the introduction of the access and waiting time standards in 2016, Greater Manchester has maintained recovery at or above 50% since February 2020 and has increased the rate of access to psychological therapies with over 6000 new people accessing treatment every month
  • We also continue to meet the national expectations for waiting times, with 78% of all people seen within 6 weeks (target of 75%) and 97% seen within 18 weeks (target 95%)

What’s next?

We plan to achieve the national standards set out in the NHS Talking Therapy Services programme:

  • Supporting people who continue to experience covid-related symptoms after having contracted the illness, through the long covid hubs while also expanding the offer more generally for people with long term conditions who also experience anxiety or depression.
  • Continued expansion of a digital offer to ensure that as many people can access the service in ways that best suit their own needs and working or living patterns.