People with depression should be offered online psychological counselling through the NHS, a leading mental health expert says. The suggestion comes after a Lancet study into online cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) showed that the method more than doubled the chances of recovery.
One in six people will experience depression at some point in their lives. There has been controversy in recent years over the reliance on antidepressants, as prescriptions for them have almost doubled in a decade, from over 18 million in 1998 to nearly 36 million last year.
The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that psychological therapies, such as CBT, should be used instead of antidepressants in mild to moderate cases. CBT focuses on helping people to solve problems and overcome negative, unhelpful or false thought patterns. Dr Tim Kendall, Chair of the NICE guidelines on depression and anxiety, called for online therapy to widen access to CBT.
Many of Westfield Health’s cash plans include a 24-hour freephone counselling and advice line, providing confidential, professional counseling and advice on a whole range of legal, medical and domestic issues at any time, day or night.
Some corporate plans also offer up to six face–to-face counselling sessions, which give policyholders the opportunity to talk through issues in person.