NHS England says new guidance has been drawn up to encourage doctors to place mental health therapists in practice surgeries, to bring mental and physical health services “under one roof”.
These therapists will be integrated into primary care teams and focus on common mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression, “particularly where this occurs in patients with a long term physical health condition such as diabetes, respiratory or heart problems,” it noted.
The move follows evidence indicating that 90 percent of adults with mental health issues are supported in primary care, and “broadening the range of services for patients, means local health services are better equipped to deal with patients’ physical and mental health needs”.
In house mental health therapists are expected to be full members of the primary healthcare team – receiving self-referrals from patients as well as GPs, clinical pharmacists, practice nurses and healthcare assistants.
This would enable the patients to have psychological treatment much closer to home, “encouraging attendance” and also helping to reduce “the perception of stigma associated with having a mental health problem,” NHS England said.
Also, intervening at an earlier stage and addressing common mental health issues can also boost care and help cut down on the number of referrals to hospital or community care.
“Joining up talking therapy services in primary care settings is another big step forward for our patients and a key plank in putting mental health at the centre of the long-term plan for the NHS,” said Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health.
“We are on track to deliver 3,000 therapists in primary care, with over 800 in surgeries at the end of last year and this handy guidance should convince those practices that are yet to take the plunge of the benefits.”