According to recent statistics, those requiring mental health services from the NHS have risen yet again, however recent IAPT reforms are failing to meet the workload. Hundreds of people are put on waiting lists for services every day, however for many this just isn’t good enough – with mental health being allowed to deteriorate while they await these services. However, with online therapy technology, the number of people struggling could be significantly reduced, with some startling benefits and a surprising lack of pitfalls. Here’s how we think the NHS could benefit from utilising this new technology in the age of online.
Firstly, and potentially most importantly with new cuts, is that online therapy has the ability to significantly reduce costs of services. Offering online therapy to those who seek advice from their GP about mental health not only reduces the costs of running a therapy centre or office, but also has the potential to reduce the working hours required to book an individual into a therapy slot. With a referral code from your GP, you could book your own sessions in your own time – reducing the need for several middle-men. Further, as therapists themselves could work from home, this reduces the need for a special space designed for therapy, which in turn would reduce rent, heating and electricity bills of a building by 100%.
However, it is also important to consider not just costs, but the benefits that online therapy potentially provides in terms of mental wellbeing. By allowing people to book their own appointments, the service becomes tailored to the individual, meaning that sessions can better fit into a person’s life with little disruption. As opposed to waiting months for an appointment, and then having to take time out to attend, individuals can choose a time that suits them, which may have the additional benefit of reducing no-shows. Often, when people fail to turn up to an appointment it is for one of two reasons: the appointment is not convenient, or there are physical boundaries stopping them. With online therapy which can be received from the comfort of one’s own home, both of these issues are less likely to occur – thus reducing wasted time and money. Further, if there is a cancellation mobile therapy would allow for cancelled appointments to be rapidly utilised or offered to other individuals, rather than wasting an entire session. Again, this has benefits not just in terms of costs, but in terms of allowing the NHS to run as efficiently as possible.
Several studies have shown that online therapy gives the same results as an equivalent face-to-face therapy, but appears to have huge differences in terms of running costs and convenience. Not only would it encourage people to take control of their own mental health, but is significantly more accessible and time-effective. Further, if we take into account that a common symptom of several mental health complaints is a reluctance to leave the house, it offers a safe alternative which may help individuals to take those first steps. Mobile therapy is possibly one of the most easily implementable changes which may reform the way our NHS deals with mental health, and significantly change people’s lives for the better.
Source: Dr Julian Existing Website feed