Improving Access to Psychological Therapies: Using evidence to change policy

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies: Using evidence to change policy


[John Pimm:] If you had a physical health
condition like diabetes and we said to you,
“The recommended treatment is this.. but only 4% percent of people in the country will get it.” There’d be an
absolute outcry. But that was the position
for people with anxiety and depression up until about ten years ago. [June Dent:] Improving Access
to Psychological Therapies is a national programme that was introduced 5 or 6 years ago as a way of recognising that there are lots of psychological therapies that work, but they were very poorly available. [David Clark:] Before the IAPT programme, we were not very good at recording the outcomes that people achieve in
mental health services. Across the whole of the UK, less than 40% of people who were
receiving psychological therapies for common mental health problems like
anxiety & depression had their symptoms measured at
pre- and post-treatment. It’s now known that those people who tend not to give you post-treatment data tend to have done less well. So we were really deluding ourselves about how good our services were. The IAPT programme gets people to fill in a measure of their anxiety and depression every time they’re seen. We now get pre- and post-treatment outcome data on 97% of all the people who have a
course of therapy. This level of data completeness in mental health has never happened in any other country. [John Pimm:] It’s been revolutionary. I think that we have demonstrated that a systematic approach to applying evidence-based treatments, routinely collecting outcome data, can make a massive difference to patients. [June Dent:] We’ve seen a huge change in the way that governments
are supportive of the mental health agenda. I think this is in large part due to what David Clark and Richard Layard
have been able to do with successive governments. [David Clark:] Early in my life,
I thought you could just focus on the research, develop the treatments, and then people would read about them, and say, “Oh yes, we’re going to
automatically deliver them to the public.” But as time went on, I realised that this
was almost a delusional belief. It simply isn’t going to happen. So you have to
get active and try and do it yourself. [June Dent:] Just hearing
how many thousands of people have got better — I think it’s over 25,000 people now,
that have come in through our services in the last 5 years, across Oxfordshire — it’s enormously rewarding.

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