Digital mental health therapies offer promise of wider access

  • Date: 10 March 2023

DIGITALLY enabled therapies offering wider access to NHS mental health services for patients with depression and anxiety disorders have been conditionally recommended by NICE in new draft guidance.

NICE has launched consultations on eight digital therapies, all of which include the support and involvement of an NHS Talking Therapies clinician and use CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy). It says that the new therapies have the potential to help more than 40,000 people.

One in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem, such as anxiety and depression, in any given week in England, according to NHS Digital. Demand is high for NHS talking therapies with some people currently waiting up to six weeks to access help.

NICE says digital therapies offer an alternative way for people to access help that may be more suited to their personal needs, offering flexibility around both time and location of treatment. A formal assessment with an NHS Talking Therapies therapist is recommended first as digital therapy may not be the right choice for every patient.

It is hoped that the use of these technologies could lead to more people with mental health conditions being seen in NHS Talking Therapies services as less practitioner or therapist time for delivery is needed than other psychological interventions.

Mark Chapman, interim director of medical technology and digital evaluation, at NICE, said: “Our rapid assessment of these eight technologies has shown they have promise.

“Developed using tried and tested CBT methods, each one has demonstrated it has the potential to provide effective treatment to the many thousands of people who live with these conditions.

“We want these new treatment options to be available for people to use as quickly as possible and we also want to make sure they are clinically effective and represent good value for the NHS. The additional evidence collected during this period will help us do that.

“We also want to hear what people involved in this area think – both clinicians and the people who will be using these digital technologies. We know CBT can work well for many people and we know that digitally enabled technology can help the NHS get support to people faster.”

The consultations are open until Wednesday 15 March 2023.


This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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