Free online therapy for depression sufferers launched in Camden
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A new service offering residents with depression free therapy over the internet has been launched in Camden to help bridge the “scarcity of available support” for people with mental health problems.
The chat room sessions, which can be carried out on an iPad or any device with an internet connection, allow those suffering conditions like anxiety or low mood to speak to expert therapists without leaving their home.
Pitched as a way to receive support “with complete anonymity”, Camden is to become one of the first areas to roll out the initiative.
Patients suffering from conditions including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and health anxiety can self refer without needing to go through their GP.
The treatment received is modelled on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and comes five years after successful trials at the University of Bristol.
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The 2009 study found almost double the number of people diagnosed with depression made a recovery after eight months compared to those without access.
Insisting it wouldn’t be a call centre for mental health, the company rolling out the service, PsychologyOnline, said those chatting to users are “experienced chartered psychologists and accredited psychotherapists”.
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Psychotherapist Kate Tilbury, of PsychologyOnline, said: “CBT works by changing the way we think and feel about problems.
“The process of answering questions through writing is very effective for reflection and learning purposes.
“Research has shown that patients using text-based CBT are more honest about their feelings, which helps a quicker and more sustained recovery.
“Many people still feel embarrassed or fear stigma at the thought of talking about their emotional problems and being able to communicate by instant messaging helps to overcome this obstacle.”
To access the service, people registered with a Camden GP can self-refer simply by logging on at psychologyonline.co.uk/camden.
Mary Clegg, of Camden Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissioned the contract, said: “To continue improved access to mental health services in Camden, Camden CCG has commissioned additional community based talking-therapies.
“The addition of this new service will allow patients to have more choice of provider and where, when and how they access their treatment.”