The Mental Health Taskforce, created to come up with a vision and plan for mental health on the NHS in the next five years, published its report yesterday. The British Psychoanalytic Council, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and UK Council for Psychotherapy responded with the following statement to the press. In the coming weeks and months, we will be carrying out extensive work in response to the report.
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC) and UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) welcome the publication of the independent Mental Health Taskforce’s report.
As the report rightly emphasises, the human cost of mental health not being treated with equal importance to physical health is unacceptable, and the report presents an impressive set of recommendations to transform the support and care of those suffering from mental ill health.
We welcome the focus on psychological therapies and look forward to working with NHS England, local commissioners, government departments and professional colleagues to ensure that those who need therapeutic support can access the right treatment at the right time.
The Taskforce calls for increased access to psychological therapies, including help for the one in four adults experiencing anxiety and depression, with at least 600,000 more people accessing care each year by 2020/21. An expansion of the government’s Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme means that it will now provide therapy for 25% of those that suffer these common mental health problems. This simply doesn’t go far enough: treating just a quarter of patients would be unimaginable for any other health condition. Imagine a cancer patient being told just that.
The last few months have seen the government announce greater funding for mental health services, and the report calls for the investment of a further £1 billion in 2020/21. This is important because figures such as those obtained by the BBC showed that at least half of all mental health trusts have lower budgets than they did last year. Patients do best when they are offered a meaningful choice of therapies, yet year-on-year, psychological therapy services have been cut with less and less choice of therapies available on the NHS.
As has been reported, children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) have also suffered from damaging cuts in recent years. It is good to see the report endorse the Future in Mind recommendations. Children need to access counselling and therapy and should not have to wait for many months or travel great distances to get help.
Together with colleagues across the mental health sector, our organisations have campaigned for more mental health research funding. There is great disparity between spend on physical health research and mental health research and we fully support the aspiration for the UK to become a world leader in the development and application of new mental health research.
A lot is at stake: we’re committed to holding the government to account, to make the report’s recommendations a reality.
Gary Fereday, CEO of the British Psychoanalytic Council, said:
“The mental health task force report is thoughtful, much needed and welcome – the task is now is turn rhetoric into reality. £1 billion extra funding a year by 2020 has the potential to greatly improve the lives of many people. Beyond the growth of IAPT services there has been huge disinvestment in established psychotherapy services that have become so diminished that many can no longer properly support patients with complex conditions that IAPT services cannot support. Choice of therapy is an important factor to help the NHS respond to the full range of unmet need. Yet even within the IAPT programme itself there is often little choice of therapy, with psychodynamic psychotherapy and couples counselling often not available. This lack of choice and the disinvestment in psychotherapy services needs to be urgently addressed.”
Janet Weisz, Chair of the UK Council for Psychotherapy, said:
“The scale of unaddressed mental health problems is too huge to ignore. The report is right: it is vital to boost provision of psychological therapy on the NHS. However, we need quality, not just quantity, if we are going to make truly meaningful and lasting improvements to people’s lives.”
Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair of BACP, said:
“The mental health taskforce report outlines the stark situation facing NHS mental health services and we support their call for additional capacity and funding for psychological therapies to help the one in four people who suffer from a mental health problem. At the heart of any reforms must be the issue of patient choice and I hope these recommendations translate into meaningful access to a range of evidence-based psychological therapies on the NHS for those who need them.”