Funding issues provoke cuts in mental health services

Pulse reports today that Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services are starting to close, as PCTs struggle to find funding.

The national Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, was set up in October 2008, to help those with depression and anxiety recover and return to work, and a review of progress in July 2010, by the North East Public Health Observatory, reported positive outcomes. Whilst the IAPT programme is a short programme, with patients usually restricted to about six sessions, this is an essential early intervention to stop conditions becoming more serious.

Mental health provision is a notoriously ill-supported area. A report by Mind released on 14th October showed that despite improvements due to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) scheme, 1 in 5 people are have to wait for over a year to access psychological therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or counselling. Impending cuts will reduce this service still further.

The government has placed great emphasis on the need to support those not working back into work, but a faster response is needed to save those schemes which are already contributing to this effort. It is essential that those with depression and anxiety are given opportunities to seek help, and research has shown that those able to access therapies quickly are more likely to make a full recovery. Whilst the forthcoming Mental Health Strategy and the Public Health White Paper are expected to set out plans for mental health provision, urgent interim measures are needed to ensure that current services are kept open.

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