Mental health charities welcomed a government pledge yesterday to roll out talking therapy services across England to treat depression and anxiety.
Health secretary Alan Johnson committed to increasing NHS spending on psychological therapies to £170m by 2010-11, meaning an extra 900,000 people will be treated over the next three years and all GPs eventually will be able to offer the service.
This constitutes a massive increase on current pilot funding on talking therapies: £3.7m over two years for the two major pilots in Doncaster and Newham, east London, which were launched last year, and £2m in total annually for 11 further pilots launched this year.
A survey of over 15,000 community mental health service users published last month by the Healthcare Commission found that over one-third of people who wanted talking treatments did not receive them.
This is despite guidance issued in 2004 by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence calling for people to be offered talking therapies for common mental health problems, given their effectiveness.
A coalition of five mental health charities – the Mental Health Foundation, Mind, Rethink, the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health and YoungMinds – which is campaigning for the guidance to be implemnted said yesterday’s announcement was a “welcome boost”.
Mental Health Foundation chief executive Andrew McCulloch said: “We hope this will result in the extension of psychological therapies to people of all ages, especially older people, young people and to ethnic minority groups, who are often harder to reach and less likely to be offered talking therapy treatments by their GPs.”
Talking therapies guidance ‘ignored’