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Ministers announce talking therapies roll-out

At King’s earlier today, The Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon. Alan Johnson MP, and Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Care Services, Ivan Lewis MP, unveiled details of the Department of Health’s plan to improve access to treatment for people who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on treatment for depression and anxiety disorders currently recommend psychological therapies, often referred to as ‘talking therapies’, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), as they have proved to be as effective as drugs in tackling these common mental health problems and are often more effective in the long run. 

David Clark, Professor of Psychology at King’s, has an international reputation for his pioneering work on the understanding and treatment of anxiety disorders. With colleagues, he has developed effective psychological treatments (forms of cognitive-behaviour therapy) for four different anxiety disorders: panic disorder, social phobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder and health anxiety.   These treatments figure prominently in the current NICE Guidelines.

At the launch Professor Rick Trainor, Principal of the College welcomed the two ministers at a reception in the Henry Wellcome Building for Psychology in Denmark Hill at the Institute of Psychiatry.  He was joined by Madeleine Long, Chair of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

Professor Clark introduced the two senior ministers who took it in turn to address a reception of mental health professionals, local NHS primary care trust representatives and patients along with members of theNew Savoy Partnership (representing therapy professionals) and the We Need to Talk Coalition (representing mental health charities), each of whom have been campaigning for more funding for psychological therapies. 

Thanking Professor Trainor, and King’s College London for hosting the event, Alan Johnson explained that this new initiative to improve access to psychological therapies has both the prospect and potential to promote recovery in many of the service users who undergo treatment.  He stated that this new initiative, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, will be rolled out nationwide and will have the ability to transform lives in a sustainable way.

He concluded by saying that mental health should be a crucial part of the health agenda and needs to be given as much profile as other conditions like cancer and heart disease. 

Ivan Lewis MP declared the need for a radically different view of mental well being in order to improve individuals’ quality of life.  He emphasized that mental health conditions affect most people and their families and that these new Department of Health guidelines for regional delivery would maximize the patient experience and support professionals in this field.  

Talking therapy funding
Professor Clark and Professor Richard Layard of the London School of Economics provided the Government with strong economic and clinical arguments for increasing public access to ‘talking therapies’ through a number of publications, including their “Depression Report”.

Around one in six people in the community suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder, as do 40 per cent of people on Incapacity Benefit.  Last October Alan Johnson announced a substantial expansion of funding for psychological therapies to provide better support for people with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.  By 2010/11 3,600 new therapists will be trained and employed at an annual cost of £170 million per year.

Professor Clark commented: ‘We are delighted with the Government’s commitment to improving access to care for individuals with mental health conditions with the launch of the new implementation guidelines today.  It is the first time in my lifetime that mental health has been treated almost on a par with physical illness.  Now there is both an aspiration and funding to offer nationwide access for the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression.’

Notes to Editors
Talking Therapies Expertise at King’s
Professor Clark has been working with Lord Richard Layard (London School of Economics) and other colleagues since 1994, to encourage the government to increase access to evidence based psychological treatments within the NHS.  

Professor Clark’s involvement with the Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies Initiative (IAPT) dates from early 2005 when he joined Lord Layard in a Cabinet Office presentation on the cost effectiveness of increasing the availability of psychological treatments for anxiety and depression. Following the election, he has served on the IAPT Programme Board and is currently Clinical Adviser to the Programme.
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