‘Help!’, written by John Lennon in 1964, speaks to the helplessness of the songwriter at a time of intense stress precipitated by the Beatles meteoric rise to international fame. The introspective lyrics, like ‘won’t you please, please help me’, have been credited for vocalising the unspoken feeling of countless individuals internally crying out for help.

Since the start of the pandemic, some 2.3 million people have come forward for NHS talking therapies. Still, new NHS figures show that around half of people concerned about their mental health over the last year have not come forwards for professional help.

The NHS ‘Help!’ campaign is encouraging anybody experiencing anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns to come forward and see how talking therapies can help them.

“No one should suffer in silence”

Sony Music and Apple Corps have donated the lyrics and melody of the classic Beatles song to the NHS campaign, and top names from the UK music industry, including Craig David and Girls Aloud’s Nicola Roberts, launched the campaign on Monday.

Claire Murdoch, NHS mental health director, said at the launch: “The pandemic has taken a toll on the nation’s mental health, and we know January can be a particularly tough month for many.”

“If you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or are feeling low, it’s important you know you are not alone and that it is okay to get help. No one should suffer in silence.”

Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud spoke at the launch about the contining “taboo” around opening up and praised the impact talking therapy had made in her life.

She said: “I’m someone that has benefited hugely from talking therapy. I think there is such a taboo around it that people almost feel like they’ve failed or they weren’t strong enough to figure out a situation by themselves. But if you’re feeling like you can’t see the wood from the trees or light at the end of the tunnel, it’s imperative to reach out because you can’t always do it alone.”

"It's about saying this is what is happening to me, it's not my fault, but my happiness matters, and I'm going to put my hand up and say I need some help. I wouldn't be where I am now without therapy.”

Investment is improving access to talking therapies

Despite the considerable backlog in mental health services, which the Royal College of Psychiatrists estimated to be 1.6 million people in June of last year, and reports of month-long waiting periods for treatment, the NHS said in a press release that ambitious investment is on course to improve access to services.

The NHS Long Term Plan has committed the Treasury to boosting community mental health services by £2.3 billion annually. Statistics show that the NHS is improving access to adult talking therapies, with more than 90% of patients starting treatment within six weeks of making a referral, although still above the four-week target.

Additionally, there has been an accelerated rollout of local mental health teams in schools, improving the delivery of support for children and young people, with around 200 teams in place for pupils at over 3,000 schools, supporting 630,000 children with mental health issues between October 2020 and September 2021.