NHS 24 has been urged to support the business case for providing a computerised cognitive behavioural therapy service for Scotland.
A report to the NHS 24 board by its medical director, Professor George Crooks, says such a service “offers the potential to provide effective treatment at a much reduced cost per treatment, while improving access to treatment.”
In England, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has recommended computerised CBT since 2006.
This is delivered through programmes such as Beating the Blues, which focuses on depression, anxiety and phobias, and Fear Fighter, for people with phobias and panic attacks.
The Scottish development has prompted fears that people will be left without access to traditional therapies at a time when mild mental health problems are known on the rise.
However, the NHS Choices website says people may prefer using a computer to talking to a therapist.
In his report to NHS 24, Professor Crooks also points out that “the option remains open for clinicians to be involved in the provision of CBT to a patient” – although fewer appointments will be needed.
NHS 24 already provides two telephone-based CBT services. The NHS Living Life Guided Self-Help service was rolled out across the whole country, following a three year pilot project supported by the Scottish Government.
The service uses self-help coaches to guide individuals through a series of self-help workbooks that can help them to understand why they may be felling low, depressed and anxious.
Some health boards also offer a telephone-based Living Life Cognitive Behavioural Therapy service, which offers more specialist help and support from qualified therapists.
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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