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NHS patients 'wait a year for mental health treatment'

Mind | Mind

2 min read Partner content

More than half of people trying to access so-called 'talking treatments' on the NHS face waits of up to a year, according to a new survey.

12% of people with mental health problems are stuck on waiting lists for more than 12 months before receiving talking treatments, and 54% wait over three months, according to  research by the We Need to Talk coalition, which includes mental health charity  Mind.

The survey of over 1,600 people who have tried to access talking therapies such as counselling and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy on the NHS in England over the last two years also shows how some people are paying for private therapy to get the help they desperately need.

11% said that they had faced costs for private treatment because the therapy they needed was not available on the NHS, while 58% weren’t offered a choice in the type of therapy they received.

Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:

“Since our last We Need to Talk report, we’ve seen money poured into the IAPT programme with some encouraging improvements in waiting times.

"However, it is far from acceptable that in some parts of the country people are still waiting over a year to access treatment. This must urgently be addressed if the Government’s commitment to parity between physical and mental health care is to be realised.

“The Government is committed to improving access to talking treatments but our report shows there is still a long way to go.

"That’s why we’re urging the Government and NHS England to take heed of this new report and make sure that people with mental health problems are getting the right treatment when they need it.”

The We Need to Talk coalition is calling for the NHS in England to offer a full range of evidence-based psychological therapies to all who need them within 28 days of requesting a referral.

Previous research has shown that extending NICE-recommended treatments such as talking therapies to all those with depression could deliver £1bn in economic benefits each year.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said more people are getting access to talking therapies, so demand has increased, leading to increased waiting times in some parts of the country.

"We have asked NHS England - the body which oversees the NHS – to introduce for the first time new waiting time and access standards for mental health services from 2015," he said.

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