The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has given its backing for an online programme to be trialed on the NHS for the treatment of depression.

Deprexis uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)-based techniques to treat the condition in adults.

The programme, which is registered as a medical device, can be used as a standalone self-help tool, but NICE is considering its use in a therapist-guided model of care.

The Institute’s first-ever digital psychological therapy briefing concludes that Deprexis can be considered an effective alternative therapy for adults with depression.

As such, it says the programme should be trialed for up to two years as part of NHS England’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

People taking part in the trial will be able to log into the programme at any time to complete modules of cognitive behavioural therapy, avoiding the need to attend therapist appointments in person.

The therapist can see what part of the programme each person is using and they can exchange messages via a secure messaging system.

According to NICE, around 200 people in England could be the first to benefit from free access to this digital therapy, the cost of which has not yet been agreed in the UK.

Deprexis, which was launched in 2007, is available in Germany, where it is used in a therapist-guided care model in a national integrated care project and in some hospitals, and in Switzerland, where it is provided by some health insurance companies.