Mental health treatment in Leeds could soon be available via instant text message

People with mental health problems in Leeds could soon receive therapy via instant text message, a meeting has heard today.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 6:00 am

The offer of “digital” mental health services was discussed at Leeds City Council’s adults and health scrutiny board, which the panel heard included video courses on how people can manage their mental health conditions.

It was added that online video courses could be accessed through the new services covering areas such as anxiety, depression, bereavement and post-natal depression.

But a panel member challenged NHS officers to explain how this was any different from getting treatment advice directly from the internet.

The meting took place in Civic Hall, Leeds.

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Liberal Democrat councillor Sandy Lay asked: “How is this different from me perhaps self-caring and going onto Youtube, for example, and searching for ‘mental health depression’ and having a video to watch?

“Is this an interactive thing? Is there someone on the other end of another computer? I can just put ‘depression’ into Google and it will bring lots of resources up for me.”

Steve Callaghan, head of services at Leeds Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), responded: “It is a very different offer. The first part is IESO, which is online CBT [cognitive behaviour therapy] – it’s evidence-based and delivered by trained practitioners, but it’s delivered through instant message.

“So if I’m the patient and you’re the therapist, we’d be having a conversation through text.

“At the end of each session you get your script, but you will also get tasks and worksheets for the next session.”

He added that recovery rates using IESO is the same as recovery rates nationally. A video service would also available to teach classes on how to help people manage their mental health.

It follows work looking into how mental health services can be improved in the city. A report which went before panel members stated that a new contract for psychological therapies in the city is worth “up to £76m” over the next five years, including a “new investment of at least £20m”.

One of the improvements listed was: “Increased online therapy offer, enhanced through silvercloud, IESO and omnitherapy webcasts which will enable access to online courses and support.

“This means more people can be directed into therapy more quickly and recover without having to wait for face-to-face treatment.”

IESO Health is a company which delivers cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) over the internet. CBT is a form of talking therapy which aims to introduce sufferers of depression and anxiety to different ways of thinking to help combat their symptoms.

IESO’s website states: “Ieso Digital Health delivers CBT over the internet, meaning you can see your therapist from wherever you choose.

“Online CBT is delivered securely through our online therapy platform. At the time of your appointment, you simply log in and speak to your therapist by typing back and forth.

“Typed conversation removes the pressure of having a face-to-face conversation, and can allow you to express your true, inner feelings. Sessions usually take place once a week and last up to 60 minutes.”