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Saturday 22nd October 2016

Virtual therapy for all

28th March 2007

People with common mental health problems such as anxiety or depression are to be given access to computer-based therapy.


Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced that computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (cCBT) would be made available to any one who would benefit in England ahead of her address at a conference for mental health charity MIND.

The aim is to widen its availability from April to reduce dependency on drug treatments. Currently there are long waiting lists to access therapy and specialist services like CBT which leaves GPs little choice but to prescribe antidepressants.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has approved two programmes: Fear Fighter for treating people who have phobias or suffer from panic attacks, and Beating the Blues for treating people with mild to moderate depression.

The programmes are already in use in some areas, but all primary care trusts should offer it to patients who may benefit from April.

Around one in five people suffer from some form of depression in their lifetime.

Experts have welcomed the move but warned that a computer-based self-help programme could not replace more traditional forms of therapy and called for better access to therapists.

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