Talking therapies: Ivan Lewis launches guidance for SHAs

    The government published guidance today on how strategic health authorities (SHAs) will deliver talking therapies in the near future, on the day that research revealed that antidepressants do not work.

    In October, the Department of Health announced it would invest £170m into an Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme to train an additional 3,600 psychological therapists.

    The programme is designed to train two levels of therapists to work with people with mild to moderate and moderate to severe mental health conditions.

    Mental health problems are the largest single cause of illness and disability in England and affects one in six adults. It is hoped this programme will treat 900,000 more people for depression and anxiety, of which 450,000 will be completely cured, in line with Nice (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) guidelines.

    Sainsbury Centre backing

    Angela Greatley, chief executive of the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, said: “For many people with depression and anxiety, timely access to therapy can be the difference between keeping and losing a job, or staying in school and dropping out. IAPT is a unique opportunity to train and develop a group of NHS-aligned therapists with the skills that are needed to offer support to the full range of people experiencing mental distress.”

    The guidance was unveiled on the day a meta-analysis of antidepressant medications revealed that antidepressants only outperformed a placebo in cases of severe depression.

    Care services minister, Ivan Lewis, said: “For many people, prescribing medication is a successful treatment but psychological therapies have proved to be as effective as drugs in tackling these common mental health problems and are often more effective in the longer term.”

    SHAs will now commission training places for high and low intensity therapist trainees across England over the next three years.

    More information

    Department of Health

    Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration

    Related items

    Antidepressants no better than placebo

    Essential information on Mental Health

    CC LIVE: Strategic health authorities to lead on therapy scheme

    Mental health charities welcome £170m pledge on talking therapies


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