LOCAL residents needing to access mental health support will now benefit from a new pilot programme being rolled out across West Lancashire.
Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), locally named Mindsmatter and provided by Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust (LSCFT) have changed how people can access talking therapies in the future.
The service launched a year-long pilot scheme on the 2 November 2020 and will provide residents who are experiencing many common mental health problems, such as anxiety, sleep disorders, trauma and depression with different types of therapy to what has been provided previously. A new single-point of access has been developed that will act as a central point making access easier. It will significantly reduce waiting times for therapy as well as providing more choice with the types of therapy on offer.
Residents are encouraged to access the IAPT service by self-referral but can also be referred via a health professional such as a GP or practice nurse, but self-referral is the preferred option.
Once Mindsmatter receive the referral via phone or email, they will arrange a nationally recognised assessment prior to being offered a therapy to meet a person’s specific needs. The therapy may be provided by therapists from LSCFT or with therapists from the local voluntary, community and faith sector (VCFS) providers.
Mindsmatter clinical lead, Dr Olga Horgan from Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, said: “During these challenging times more people than ever are looking for mental health advice and support. To ensure they are able to access the help available, it’s important that the initial point of access for support is as straight-forward as possible.
“This West Lancashire pilot will not only improve access to talking therapies, but also help to ensure people receive help sooner and are offered more choice and flexibility in terms of the types of support available.
“LSCFT would like to remind everyone that if you or a friend or family member need mental health assistance or support, help is available. Contact Mindsmatter by phone or online. We are here for you.”
Phil Winnard, mental health commissioning manager at NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The day to day stresses of modern life mean that more and more people face common mental health problems such as anxiety, sleep disorders and depression. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on many people’s mental health and as a result there is a need for a service that provides fast and simple access to the therapies that they need.
“This new pilot will improve and simplify the process for accessing talking therapies for both West Lancashire residents and referrers such as GPs and other health professionals, whilst also reducing waiting times to access the help that people need.
“This new service will offer a wide variety of therapies such as counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, trauma therapy, sleep therapy, support for people who have experienced childhood trauma, specialist bereavement support and will also provide links to other services that support people with common mental health problems.
“Some of the services are offering direct psychological support to those specifically impacted by the pandemic. It is important that the new services could provide the therapy closer to home, including digital therapies as an alternative to face to face support which is particularly important during the current pandemic.
“The Mindsmatter service also provide psychological support for people who have chronic physical health problems such as cardiac problems, breathing difficulties, diabetes or to support with pain management.
“I am delighted that many local voluntary sector providers will be working very closely with LSCFT as their therapists bring a wealth of skill and knowledge and really expand on the types of therapy on offer when compared to traditional IAPT services.”
Dr Ros Bonsor, a local GP and clinical lead for mental health at NHS West Lancashire CCG, said: “Sometimes it helps and can be easier to talk to someone other than our friends and relatives about how we are feeling.
“Talking therapies can be really helpful for lots of things, including depression, anxiety, trauma, phobia’s or sleep difficulties and this new IAPT service is unique because we are directing patients to a single point of contact for the first time.
“Currently people access talking therapies via many different routes. This means that the process can be complicated to navigate for some people and in some instances, there is a lack of clarity of what is on offer.
“The single point of access will change this, and it will mean that all people accessing talking therapies have a consistent and nationally accepted standard for screening and assessment. We will then see patients directed onto the most appropriate support following their telephone assessment.”
The Mindsmatter service is available Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm by calling 01695 684 177 or online www.lscft.nhs.uk/Mindsmatter and self-referrals can be made online at www.lscft.nhs.uk/mindsmatter2-self-referral.