Improving Access to Psychological Therapies

Clinical Lead – Dr Angela Kennedy, Consultant Psychologist, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust

The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme began in 2008 and is primarily for people who have mild to moderate mental health difficulties, such as depression, anxiety, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder IAPT services provide evidence based treatments implementing NICE guidelines alongside improving quality.

The provision of psychological therapies for people with common mental health problems has expanded hugely in recent years with the commitment in the Mental Health Five Year Forward View (MH 5YFV) that NHS England should increase access to evidence-based psychological therapies, to reach 25 per cent of need so that at least 600,000 more adults with anxiety and depression can access care (and 350,000 complete treatment) each year by 2020/21, with a focus on helping people who are living with long-term physical health conditions or who are unemployed.

People with long term physical illnesses suffer more complications if they also develop mental health problems, increasing the cost of care by an average of 45 per cent. Yet much of the time this goes unaddressed. There is good evidence that dedicated mental health provision as part of an integrated service can substantially reduce these poor outcomes. For example, in the case of Type 2 diabetes, £1.8 billion of additional costs can be attributed to poor mental health.

Supporting quality improvement and development of IAPT services is a priority for Clinical Networks. Within Northern England the Mental Health Network has established an IAPT forum to bring together commissioners, providers and service users.

The aim of this forum is to support providers and commissioners to achieve the current access and waiting times standards, work towards the stretch targets for 2020/21 and increase the capacity and capability to treat people with long term physical health conditions within a multi-disciplinary team with particular emphasis on increased access for older adults and BME communities

The forum will do this by providing opportunities to:

  • Link with regional and national NHS England colleagues, including the IAPT Intensive Support Team
  • Facilitate local understanding of effective service delivery through sharing of good practice
  • Gather and share intelligence on current capacity and capability to treat people with LTCs
  • Gather and share intelligence regarding increasing access for older people and BME groups
  • Work together to identify and address challenges.