The British Psychological Society has welcomed the increase in access to evidence-based psychological therapies over the past five years which has been supported by all three main political parties. However, there is still a long way to go. Along with other organizations in the We Need to Talk Coalition (WNTT), the Society is today calling for further action to improve the provision of psychological therapies within the NHS.
Access to psychological therapies has improved for those with common mental health problems; however there is still considerable variation around the country with people in some areas waiting far too long for treatment. There is also evidence that for specific groups such as older people, people from Black and minority Ethnic communities and those with physical health problems, services are not sufficiently accessible in many parts of the country.
Therapy must not only be accessible but also provided appropriately in order to be effective. Our own survey of over one thousand psychological therapists within the NHS highlighted the fact that in some areas the provision of psychological therapies are subject to arbitrary local restrictions on the number of sessions which resulted in patients receiving far fewer sessions than specified in NICE clinical guidelines.
There is considerable evidence for the effectiveness of psychological therapies for severe mental health problems and this is reflected within NICE guidelines. However the WNTT survey and our own survey of NHS practitioners show that psychological therapies are not available to many with severe mental health problems who need it. We are therefore calling for significantly increased provision to address this deficit.
Finally, the Society calls for all children and young people who need it to have access to psychological therapies. This would include enabling Children and Young People's Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) to extend its scope of evidence based therapies and to have 100 per cent coverage across the country.
Society President Elect, Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes said.
"The British Psychological Society firmly supports development of mental health service provision in order to allow services that are high-quality and easily accessible, which allow for flexibility and depth of provision of care from an appropriate range of professionals in a timely fashion and on a basis of parity with physical health care provision."
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