East lancs CCG logo

| | | | Members

Mental health: online health services just as effective as face-to-face therapy, research shows

The state of someone’s mental health can have a huge impact on their lives. In severe cases, depression can lead to suicide so it is important to know exactly what help is available, including face-to-face talking therapies and online health services.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 May), which this year focuses on whether people are surviving or thriving, doctors at NHS East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are advising local residents on the best ways to tackle mental health issues.

Major depression is the second leading cause of disability worldwide, which is why the NHS are constantly thinking of new ways to support people with mental health issues. Talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), can be as effective as medication but you may be put on a waiting list.

Because of this, there are a now a number of online services available, called Computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CCBT). They are designed to treat depression, panic disorders and anxiety disorders.

They are available 24/7 and can be accessed via a computer, tablet or smartphone. Online health services are discreet and confidential, they don’t require patients to travel to a specific location and there are shorter waiting times for NHS referrals.

Online mental health services include:

• Big White Wall – available on the NHS in some areas, or you can join by paying a subscription of £25 per month
• Fear Fighter – available on the NHS in some areas with a referral from your GP
• Leso Digital Health – available on the NHS in some areas
• Silver Cloud & Living Life– two computerised CBT packages available in Pennine via NHS hospitals/trusts/clinics but not available to private clients

Dr Rakesh Sharma clinical lead at the CCGs said: “The world is changing and people rely on technology and the internet far more than they used to. Instead of actually going out to the shops to get the things they need, many prefer to buy them online.

“This is the same with treatments for mental health issues, which is why we have a number of online services available that are just as useful as face-to-face therapy. A lot of the online services can be accessed through the NHS so you won’t need to worry about paying.

“All of the services are really helpful and can be accessed at any time, day or night.”

Contact your GP to find out more about CCBT services and whether they are available for free on the NHS in your area.

For more information about online mental health services and face-to-face therapy, visit the NHS Choices website and www.eastlancshealthyminds.co.uk