We welcome the Government’s plans for 21,000 new mental health posts including an additional 2,900 additional therapists to deliver talking therapies.

The numbers of people needing talking therapies has never been higher. This has been acknowledged in the NHS Five Year Forward View with plans to expand the IAPT programme even further. We strongly urge Jeremy Hunt to use the thousands of existing trained and registered counsellors to help deliver his plans. There is an experienced workforce ready to fill these new posts without the need to spend money on training up new therapists. This expansion is incompatible and undeliverable without counselling and the counselling workforce.

We also urge the Government to ensure there is range of choice in the therapies offered. Choice is important in a modern NHS and patients who share in decision making or received a choice of treatment have lower drop-out rates, greater treatment satisfaction and importantly better treatment outcomes. A survey conducted by Populus of 2000 adults in Great Britain and Northern Ireland into the public attitudes towards counselling and its availability on the NHS for treating depression, showed beyond any doubt that the public believe there should be a range of therapies available on the NHS. When asked, 98% of those who expressed a preference agreed that the NHS should offer a range of psychological therapies for adults who are suffering with depression.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair of BACP said:

“It’s great news that the Government are employing more therapists on the NHS.

“Jeremy Hunt talks about having the right people in post and a drive to retrain and retain existing staff. The Government need to look no further than the thousands of under-utilised trained counsellors that have been marginalised and had their numbers cut over many years.

“The counselling workforce is already there and willing to fill these new posts now and immediately start helping the people get the support they need on the NHS.”