The Scottish government has issued £3m funding for a three year pilot study on the effects of telephone and online-based cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).
The funding will be spent on a pilot study with NHS 24, as well as a new self-help CD-Rom, part of the government’s new ‘Living Life To The Full’ initiative.
GPs in the Western Isles, Shetland, Borders, Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Lothian regions will be able to refer patients to the telephone based CBT system.
They will then be able to call a dedicated NHS 24 number and be talked through a number of ways to help ease any mild anxiety and depression issues they are experiencing.
Scotland’s minister for public health, Shona Robison, said: “Along with our partners in NHS boards across Scotland and at NHS 24, we have sought out new ways of helping people who experience anxiety and depression.
“This funding will deliver accessible, user friendly cognitive behavioural therapy, and put people more in control of their mental health.”
A team of qualified therapists and self-help coaches will be employed in the regions, should the patient calling NHS 24 need further professional help and support, and special CD-Roms will be made available to affected patients.
One-to-one self-help clinics, group sessions, workbooks and college courses are also being run to aid patients with their CBT and a website with self-help tips and other advice is being developed.
The Scottish Government has set a target to stop rising rates of antidepressant prescriptions in the coming years, and hope the use of CBT can help to reduce this.
Speaking at the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies conference last week, Robison said: "The Scottish government is committed to improving services for those with anxiety and depression, and this funding is a direct expression of that commitment."