The human and financial costs of anxiety and depression are well recognised, as is the effectiveness of a psychological approach to treatment. However, providing timely access to psychological approaches can be problematic. Access can still be hampered by a lack of trained therapists.
Despite being ‘everyday technology’, the Internet and telephone are under-utilised in helping meet the challenges of improving access to services. The Serenity Programme enables people to receive psychological therapy at home, using the telephone and Internet.
Users decide when and where they will use the Programme. The programme is delivered in North Wales in partnership with Mind (Aberconwy) and Parabl (http://www.parabl.org.uk/), a third-sector provider of mental health services.
Qualified therapists, trained volunteers and ‘experts by experience’ work with us, enabling a wide range of options for service users. Research suggests our approach fits well with client’s lifestyles, work commitments, and child care responsibilities.
The Programme is effective and popular with users, available in over 80 different languages, reduces waiting lists and more than doubles throughput. It is cheaper than treatment as usual yet has comparable outcomes. Since its launch it 2010, over 95,000 people worldwide have used the Programme.
Accessing guided online self-help enables clients to:
• Receive timely treatment at home
• Avoid the burden of travel
• Avoid the stigma of ‘being seen’ to access services
• Proceed at their own pace
A local study (n = 113) has shown the programme to be both clinically effective and popular with users.
• A ‘single point of contact’ improves access.
• Increases choice through third-sector collaboration.
• The programme enables access for ‘hard to reach’ groups – people with social anxiety, mobility problems, carers, night-shift workers and people with shame or stigma issues.
• Typically doubles throughput compared to TAU.
• Reduces costs to the provider.
For more information, please see our website www.serene.me.uk
Steve Cottrell RMN has worked for the NHS in Wales for 32 years. Following a career in the motor industry he worked in nursing, clinical governance and quality assurance. For the last 10 years he has worked as a consultant nurse in Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, helping improve access to psychological therapies.