Talking therapies: a four year plan of action

A supporting document to No health without mental health: a cross-government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages.

This plan outlines how the Government’s commitment to expanding access to psychological therapies will be delivered in the four years from April 2011, with business continuity during structural reform of the NHS.

The Government has demonstrated the importance it attaches to talking therapies by including them in The Coalition: our programme for government and the Spending Review and by making them the subject of a ministerial keynote speech. It also confirmed £70 million in June to fund the third year of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme that began in 2008.

The aim is to develop talking therapies services that offer treatments for depression and anxiety disorders approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) across England by March 2015, the end of the Spending Review period.

This involves:

  • completing the nationwide roll-out of IAPT services for adults of all ages who have depression or anxiety disorders, paying particular attention to ensuring appropriate access for people over 65
  • initiating a stand-alone programme to extend access to psychological therapies to children and young people, building on learning from the IAPT programme and using NICE-approved and ‘best evidence’-based therapies where NICE guidelines are pending
  • broadening the benefits of talking therapies by extending them to people with physical long-term conditions or medically unexplained symptoms, which are physical symptoms caused by psychological distress, and
  • expanding access to talking therapies services for people with severe mental illness.