We welcome the government’s focus on increasing awareness to widen support for people with anxiety, depression or any mental health challenge through the NHS’s new Help Us Help You campaign.

The campaign has been launched to encourage people to come forward for assessment and treatment primarily through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

It aims to support people who have particularly suffered with their mental health through the pandemic, as well as addressing the marked reduction in IAPT referrals during the lockdown, which fell by more than 40% in April to 11% in July.

A focus on increasing awareness to widen support was one of the three key asks of our Covid 19 campaign.

However, we’d like to see support for a wider range of opportunities to access therapy offered to reflect the unique challenges Covid-19 has brought.

These challenges include the difficult experiences faced by bereaved families, ethnic minority communities, frontline workers and those impacted by the huge economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

This campaign links to the development of a new Winter Mental Health and Wellbeing Plan to help focus mental health responses to the pandemic, which we also called for in our Covid 19 campaign.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported 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.

Nadine Dorries, Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, said: “The last few months have been challenging for many of us, especially for those with pre-existing mental health issues, and the NHS and Mental Health Services have remained open to support those who need it.

“Talking therapies can be highly effective in helping people who are experiencing anxiety and depression, and I encourage anyone who is struggling to come forward to get the support they need. Do not suffer in silence, speak to your GP or self-refer online to access support available.”

We've joined with BPC and UKCP today to write to Ms Dorries to request a meeting to discuss how the counselling and psychotherapy workforce can play a key role within the forthcoming Winter Mental Health and Wellbeing Plan, as well as calling for dedicated tiered bereavement support to urgently support families come to terms with their losses.

Martin Bell, our Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “As we move through the second wave, it’s critical people are aware of the range of support available to them and feel confident about seeking help.

“Since the start of the pandemic, BACP and our 27 campaign partners have called for government to bring forward a campaign to ensure people get the help they need, when they need it.

“While we welcome this, we’d like to see government promote other opportunities to access counselling and psychotherapy, as well as the IAPT programme.

“We believe this campaign should include a wider range of services and settings, beyond NHS IAPT provision, in light of the unique needs of people during these challenging times."