coupletalkMore than half of people who had at least 2 sessions of talking therapies showed an improvement in their mental health, new figures have revealed. But more needs to be done to ensure greater number of people can access them quickly, a charity has warned.

This warning came after the publication of the first annual set of data about the government’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The data, which HSCIC suggests may be under-reported for this first year, showed that:
• There were 884,000 referrals made for talking therapies in 2012/13
• Of these, around half resulted in people entering treatment
• In 269,000 cases, people dropped out or declined the treatment that was offered to them
• 144,000 referrals resulted in people having at least two therapy sessions. Of these, 57% showed improvement in their mental health
• Of those referrals reported as entering treatment in 2012-13: 63 in every 100 attended their first appointment within 28 days, with 92 in every 100 attending within 90 days.

Vicki Nash, head of policy and campaigns at Mind, said that the gap between the numbers of people being referred and those actually entering treatment is cause for “significant concern”.

This echoes Mind’s own research, as part of the We Need to Talk coalition, which found that 1 in 10 people waited over a year and more than half waited more than three months for an initial assessment, often with a further long wait to begin treatment.

“The longer someone has to wait for the treatment they need, the greater the risk that they will become more unwell and need more intensive treatment further down the line. Mind has heard many terrible stories of relationship breakdowns, people becoming estranged from their children, or people struggling to stay in work while they wait for treatment, while others become so unwell they harm themselves or become suicidal.

“The data also shows that many people are declining or dropping out of treatment. This may be because of the lack of choice that people have in the sort of talking treatment they are offered. Different therapies work well for different people, so it’s crucial that everyone is able to choose the type of therapy that’s right for them.

“That 57% of people who continued treatment showed improvement proves how effective talking therapies can be. Mind is calling on NHS in England to offer a full range of psychological therapies to everyone who needs them within 28 days of requesting a referral and on clinical commissioning groups to commission services that meet the needs of their local communities.”

Emily Wooster, policy manager at the MHF, added: "These statistics indicate that referral to IAPT services is still currently focused on those of working age and more needs to be done to improve access rates for older people and children and young people – as almost 3 in 4 people being referred were aged between 20 and 49.

"The IAPT programme has made real progress in treating and supporting those with depression and anxiety since its inception– we hope that next year’s report will show that progress has been made in referrals and treatment for these groups."

Read the full report at: