The HSE will provide free online counselling for those with anxiety and depression
Cognitive behaviour therapy, even provided online, has been shown to help a significant number of patients.
Online counselling will be provided free of charge to those who are suffering from anxiety and depression by the HSE, after a pilot study found it to be an incredibly effective treatment.
In the study, after two months of online cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), 57 per cent of patients who had been diagnosed with depression or anxiety were “diagnosis-free”, and 88 per cent had significantly reduced symptoms.
The counselling will be provided by SilverCloud, an online mental health service, and paid for by the HSE. It will be available to people who have been referred by their GP, a primary care psychologist, the national counselling service or Jigsaw, a mental health charity for young people.
Although the pandemic forced many health services online, this is one instance where it has shown that effective treatment can be carried out remotely, making access to it much easier, and hopefully reducing the amount of time people have to wait to receive treatment.
Speaking about the move, HSE assistant national director for mental health operations Jim Ryan said, “Many people can receive effective treatment for mental health difficulties at primary care level and we know that early intervention can make a huge difference.
“Programmes like SilverCloud, with clinical oversight, will provide timely support to people who might otherwise have to wait for a face-to-face consultation.”
The treatment usually takes between eight and 12 weeks, and will be overseen by a clinician, who will be able to provide support if the patient’s diagnosis becomes more serious.
SilverCloud has said that many patients benefit from continued treatment beyond 12 weeks, but it is not clear if the HSE will pay for any treatment beyond this cut off point.