talking therapiesThe first stage of delivery of expanded psychological therapies in primary care for people with long-term conditions such as diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been announced by NHS England.

NHS England has awarded more than £11 million in 2016/17 and some £24 million in 2017/18 to fund 30 clinical commissioning groups to improve mental health care for patients with long-term conditions through 22 different psychological therapies schemes. They are expected to start seeing patients beginning within the next three months. This to kick start the commitment to fund an extra 3,000 mental health therapists in GP practices. 

Many people with anxiety disorders or depression also have a long-term condition like diabetes or COPD. A pilot showed that treating people’s physical and mental health problems in an integrated way can lead to better outcomes improving both people’s mental health and their management of their long-term condition.

The initial focus will be on long-term conditions where the evidence of impact is strongest: diabetes, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease. Some will help people with cancer, and medically unexplained symptoms such as chronic pain and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “The NHS needs strong primary care services, and… we're taking further practical action to provide GPs with modern surgeries to work from, expanded staff to offer their patients a wider range of mental health care. We meant it when we said GP services are the bedrock of the NHS, and we're backing that commitment with concrete action to deliver the GP Forward View."

Earlier this month, NHS England also announced that in January 2017, a nationwide, £19.5 million NHS GP Health service will be introduced to improve access to mental health support for GPs and trainee GPs.