Nine more digital therapies have been approved for NHS use in adults with anxiety or depression, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has confirmed today.
The new treatments – six for anxiety and three for depression – provide alternative routes to healthcare that may be more convenient for certain patients while also freeing up clinical time that could be used to see more patients or cut waiting lists.
The therapies for depression could save an average of six-and-a-half hours of time for therapists with standard care for each patient usually taking eight hours.
Similar efficiencies could be realised by the digital treatments for anxiety which could save an average of six hours of therapist time with standard care taking 10 hours.
The new care choices include the support of either a NHS Talking Therapies clinician or wellbeing practitioner, who will undertake a formal assessment before deciding which intervention is most suited to a specific patient’s needs.
The news, which coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week, comes as NHS Digital figures show that one in six people in England report experiencing a common mental health problem during the average week.
In 2021/22, NHS Talking Therapies received more than 500,000 referrals for anxiety and depression services.
NICE’s interim director of medical technology and digital evaluation, Mark Chapman, said: “One of our priorities is to get the best care to people fast while at the same time ensuring value for money for the taxpayer – these digitally enabled therapies do both.
“Every person seen by an NHS Talking Therapies clinician or practitioner is assessed so their needs can be fully understood. The choice of a digitally enabled therapy must be the right one for the individual, ensuring that they get the care they need.”
NHS England still need to formally approve some of the new treatments before they are officially rolled out, although some are already in use.