10 Dec 2020

People with mental health worries in St Helens are being urged to seek help in a new phase of the NHS’s ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign.

Although mental health services have been running throughout the pandemic there was a marked dip in referrals despite evidence that coronavirus is making problems more common.

Now a new NHS campaign will encourage anyone suffering from anxiety, depression or other issues to come forward for assessment and treatment.

NHS talking therapies, also known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), are a confidential service run by fully qualified therapists. In St Helens, this is the ‘Think Wellbeing’ service which is provided by North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. 

People over the age of 16 can access the service by visiting their GP or refer themselves online at https://www.nwbh.nhs.uk/think-wellbeing-st-helens or by calling 01744 647100. 

The service is run by dedicated team of psychological wellbeing practitioners, cognitive behavioural therapists and counsellors who offer a range of support to help people make positive changes to reduce stress and anxiety and improve their wellbeing.

Interventions include online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) via Silvercloud; stress control classes, Wellbeing workshops, Group therapy One-to-one support, video consultation and telephone support.

The service aims to support people with practical techniques, counselling, trauma therapy, CBT, behaviour activation and mindfulness to help improve and manage stress, depression or anxiety symptoms. The service is for all adults over the age of 16 years, including people with complex health conditions, perinatal depression, veterans seeking therapy and older people.

Dr Laura Pogue, local GP and clinical lead for mental health at NHS St Helens CCG, said: “Covid-19 has impacted us all in different ways and our mental health is just as important as our physical health.  I want to remind people that talking therapies for anxiety and depression have been available throughout the pandemic and continue to be open to everyone who feels they might benefit from referring themselves to psychological therapies.”

Claire Murdoch, NHS National Director for Mental Health said: “The NHS has been and continues to be here for the nation’s mental health and we are proud to launch our first national campaign on mental health services and encourage people to come forward for mental health care.

“People might feel nervous about burdening the NHS or getting exposed to the virus but remember we are here to help. Whether you are a new mum, an older person or struggling with work, please speak to your GP or self-refer online so we can get you the mental health support you need. These therapies really help and are effective and we want you to come forward.’

In April 2020 only 57,814 referrals were made in England compared to 133,191 in April 2019.

The latest figures from July show that referrals are recovering, but are still down by 11% compared to last year.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported that almost one in five adults were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic and almost one in eight developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms.

The ONS also found a marked increase in anxiety at the beginning of lockdown with almost half (49.6%) of people reporting high anxiety.

Not all those people who are feeling more anxious through the pandemic will go on to need professional support, but for those that do the NHS is here to help with talking therapies.

To find out more about talking therapies, you can visit the NHS website: nhs.uk/talk