Talking therapies pilots launched

Campaigners have urged the government to make the long-awaited talking therapy pilot projects, launched last week, the start of a new approach to mental health.

Newham and Doncaster will be the two demonstration sites for the project, as revealed in Community Care in February (Peer bids to win backing for talking therapies after white paper setback
, 9 February), receiving £3.7m from the government over the next two years.

The sites will test the theory that improved access to talking therapies can help the economy by returning to work more people with depression or anxiety or help them stay in employment.

Mental health charities broadly welcomed the news. Rethink said the projects could be “the beginning of a dramatic advance in mental health” and Mind hoped they would be the first step in making talking therapies readily available on the NHS to all who needed them.

Therapy will be available only to people of working age but the pilots will explore different types of service delivery.

The Doncaster pilot will have a strong employment focus, with a 30-strong team based at Doncaster Chamber of Commerce.

Dr Ben Wright, clinical lead for the Newham pilot, emphasised it was primarily a health initiative, with employment support offered to those who wanted it.

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