coupletalkPeople with mental health problems brought on by long-term physical conditions living in southwest London will be able access cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) more easily thanks to a new pilot scheme.

South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) has been awarded a £40,000 grant to train GP practice staff and selected healthcare staff across Sutton and Merton to run CBT informed courses for their patients.

Research has shown that 30% of patients with long-term physical health problems also experience mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Further reading: Report shows ‘alarming’ lack of physical healthcare for people with schizophrenia

Steve Sheward, CBT therapist, said: “This is a preventative measure. The target group for the project do not have severe mental health problems and it is hoped that this help can stop that happening.

“CBT can also help with the care they receive for their physical problems as they are more likely to stick to treatment programmes and will, in the long-term, have fewer visits to GP surgeries and A&E.”

Experts from SWLSTG will visit GP practices and other healthcare centres to run CBT-informed psycho-education courses that will help the professionals to build on the CBT skills they already have to provide a service to their patients.

The course will include identifying unhelpful reactions to long-term conditions, breaking unhelpful cycles of inactivity and avoidance, mood management, setting goals and achieving a balanced lifestyle. Following the sessions, a psychologist will be available to for up to one year to advise the teams on how to run CBT sessions and provide the best care to their patients.

A spokesman for Health Education South London, which awarded the grant for the project, said: “We want to develop a workforce capable of delivering the best possible care, centred on the needs of the patient. This project offers an exciting professional development opportunity to primary care practitioners.”