This site is intended for UK healthcare professionals
Medscape UK Univadis Logo
Medscape UK Univadis Logo

CBT Use Increased to Record Numbers During Pandemic

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RC Psych) published data for patients undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in 2021, reporting a record number of annual appointments for those accessing CBT across England, with nearly 2 million appointments having taken place in 2021.

"This is the highest number of CBT appointments since records began, with a total of 1,961,096 appointments registered overall for the calendar year 2021," the RC Psych said.

The College emphasised how CBT can help with many different mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, panic and phobias, eating disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Pandemic Aftermath - Talking Therapies More Important than Ever

Dr Paul Blenkiron, consultant psychiatrist and author of the RC Psych updated patient information resource on CBT said: "There is a high demand for cognitive behavioural therapy in the aftermath of the pandemic. With all the uncertainties that continue in the world, effective talking treatments like CBT are more important than ever."

The College updated its patient information resource and highlights how the information is for "anyone who wants to know more about cognitive behavioural therapy". It looks at how CBT works, why it's used, its effects, its side-effects, and alternative treatments.

Dr Blenkiron pointed out how talking therapies can be used alongside other treatments and "help people learn new skills to keep themselves feeling well".  

Good Mental Health and Wellbeing a Priority

CBT is available on the NHS through GP referral or self-referral through the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) scheme, which began in 2008, and features in the NHS Long Term Plan that aims to see the "number of people with anxiety disorders or depression who can access talking therapies through IAPT increase by an additional 380,000 per year to reach 1.9 million by 2023/24".

One benefit if this, NHS England said, was "supporting people to find or stay in work", as good work contributes to good mental health, and IAPT services "can better contribute to improved employment outcomes".

The Government has committed to mental health services receiving a growing share of the NHS budget, worth in real terms at least a further £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24, NHS England said.

Recently draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that people in England with mild depression should first be offered behavioural therapy or group exercise instead of medication.

NICE said not to routinely offer antidepressant medication as first-line treatment for less severe depression, "unless that is the person's preference", adding that "group cognitive behavioural therapy could be offered as a first treatment".

Lead Image Credit: SDI Productions/Getty Images