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NHS England invests in mental health services for patients with long-term illnesses


3 January 2017

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NHS England is investing £31m in a new service to provide mental health support for people living with long-term health conditions.

From this month, the 22 improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) services will cover 30 CCGs, offering integrated psychological therapies to an estimated 30,000 people over the next two years.

The first wave of sites will focus on diabetes, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease, where evidence has shown a positive impact using this approach.

NHS England is investing £31m in a new service to provide mental health support for people living with long-term health conditions.

From this month, the 22 improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) services will cover 30 CCGs, offering integrated psychological therapies to an estimated 30,000 people over the next two years.

The first wave of sites will focus on diabetes, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease, where evidence has shown a positive impact using this approach.

Services will also support people with cancer, and medically unexplained symptoms such as chronic pain and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Research has found that around half of people with anxiety disorders or depression have a long-term physical health problem such as diabetes, a respiratory disease or a medically unexplained symptom like chronic pain or chronic fatigue.

The investment will fund therapists – both trainees and experienced clinicians – based in GP surgeries.

It will also pay for additional training for therapists that work with people who have both mental health and physical health problems.

Professor Tim Kendall, NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health, said: “England is almost unique in providing easy access to effective psychological treatments for anxiety and depression in primary care.

But there are many people with long-term physical health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, who also suffer from depression and anxiety, which mainly goes untreated and makes their physical health worse.”

Kendell added that he is “pleased” that the programme is coming into effect from this month “when many frail older people with physical and mental health problems become lonely and isolated”.

Local health managers can also apply for an extra £20m to fund further services similar to IAPT.

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