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Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)

Organization: NHS

Country: UK

Forum: Mental health

The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme is a large-scale initiative that aims to increase significantly the availability of evidence-based psychological treatments for depression and anxiety disorders within NHS-commissioned services in England.

It was created to offer patients a realistic and routine first-line treatment for depression and anxiety disorders, combined where appropriate with medication but also making use of talking therapies and guided self-help. If individuals subsequently fail to benefit from low-intensity intervention, or have a severe disorder, they are then offered high-intensity, face-to-face therapy. In order to support and deliver the program, a comprehensive course was launched to provide training for new therapists in psychological treatments based on strong evidence of effectiveness from clinical trials.

More than 1.1 million people have been treated by IAPT services in the first three years of the project. This has brought the following health and economic improvements:

  • more than 683,000 people have completed a course of treatment
  • recovery rates in excess of 45%
  • around two-thirds of those treated have shown a reliable improvement
  • training of over 5000 new therapists to form a new, competent workforce to deliver recommended treatments
  • increased employment attainment and retention, with more than 45,000 people moving off sick pay and benefits

The scope of the program is now being extended to offer services for children and young people, people with long-term physical conditions, and people with medically unexplained symptoms or severe mental illness.

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