Issued: 10 August 2018

BABCP highlight gap between IAPT therapist funding and stated mental health policy

The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) are concerned about changes to health education funding and their impact for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.

Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is a programme started in 2008 aiming to improve access to talking therapies for individuals with common mental health problems in England. Over 900,000 people now access IAPT services each year for depression, anxiety and other difficulties.

The government are keen to talk and take action about prioritising mental health and speak of their pride for the benefits of IAPT services.

They recognise that there is an increased need for mental health services especially in children and young people but across all age groups.

Plans to expand IAPT have been announced, specifically pledging to expand services so that at least 1.5m adults access care each year by 2020/21. This means an increase nationally from 15% of people with anxiety and depression being seen each year by IAPT to 25% of people with depression and anxiety being seen. There are also plans to provide more services for more long term conditions. This has important resource implications, requiring an increased number of training places for IAPT therapists.

However funding for training places has now changed. Previously Health Education England funded education costs and salary backfill during an individuals' training. HEE still fund the training fees but local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have only recently been told that the are now responsible for funding backfill. For many CCGS this change occurred after they had committed these funds to other priorities, making it impossible for some to meet the requirements.

This is highly likely to impact on number of places taken up in September and there are reports that some may not be funding any places in this round of training. CCGs are already facing difficult choices about how to fund mental health and physical health services, and it is not surprising that they may be unable to prioritise IAPT in such difficult circumstances.

This gap in funding will mean a continued lack of trained therapists to provide evidence based talking therapies for people with mental health difficulties. Not enough therapists means long waiting times and patchy provision for people who could be significantly helped by therapies which work.

BABCP highlight this gap that has emerged between funding provision and health policy and call for urgent action to resolve this.