The effectiveness of psychological therapies for people with
depression is to be tested, Community Care has learned,
writes Simeon Brody.
A government pilot will study whether talking therapies,
particularly cognitive behavioural therapy, will help people with
severe mental health problems return to work.
The Department of Health believes the Treasury could be persuaded
to support a national programme if its economic value can be
A report last December for the prime minister’s strategy unit by
economist Richard Layard recommended that people “should have the
choice of evidence-based psychological therapy if they want it”
within five years.
He suggested training 5,000 extra psychological therapists and
doubling the number of training places for clinical psychologists
But with psychologists and psychiatrists focusing on people with
more acute needs and a mass training programme still to be
established, the pilots will help to ascertain who is in the best
position to deliver the therapy.
It is understood that mental health nurses and occupational
therapists are favoured for the role, and consideration is being
given to enlisting the voluntary and independent sectors to provide
The pilots, which will be launched in the autumn, will also test
which types of therapy could be considered “quality assured” and
who would be given priority for treatment.
Rethink chief executive Cliff Prior said: “This is overdue and
highly desirable. It’s not just the therapeutic benefit, users say
they want it.”
He said it would also help change public opinion as mental health
problems would be seen in a more everyday way if GPs could offer
more effective treatments.
But he warned that the therapy should not solely focus on the
economic benefits of getting people back to work but should
to need, as for any other health service.
A DH spokesperson said a statement about talking therapies would be
made in the autumn but refused to comment further.