There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted mental health through areas such as bereavement, social isolation, uncertainty and financial insecurity. It has affected all age groups and will have long lasting effects on the overall mental health of our society as a whole.
It is also well known that early intervention is important as it can help prevent the escalation of the presenting mental health issues. It is for this reason that the National Counselling Society supports the #123GP Campaign and continues to call for counselling to be available in all primary care settings.
Those in need of mental health support should have quick and easy access to counselling and it should not be determined by your post code or your socio-economic status. The amount of sessions should also be determined by the need of the patient and not determined by economics. Indeed, current NICE guidelines recommend that clinicians should consider counselling for people with persistent sub-threshold depressive symptoms or mild to moderate depression, and state that for such patients who are having counselling, the duration of treatment should typically be in the range of six to ten sessions over 8 to 12 weeks. There should be ringfenced funding for GP surgeries to allow them to increase the availability of talking therapies for their patients.
Our members, and those on other accredited registers for counselling and psychotherapy, are already expert at providing the support needed. There are thousands of highly experienced practitioners able to fulfil that need immediately.
The National Counselling Society therefore backs the call to end the postcode lottery and to ensure counselling is easily accessible by all through GP practices.
The Accredited Registers programme provides assurance that those on the register are qualified, supervised, insured, and that the register holders themselves have proven that they meet the rigorous standards needed to hold such a register. This is an initiative set up for the Department for Health and run by the Professional Standards Authority who also have oversight for statutory regulators. The Public Health Authority recognises the importance of counsellors being accredited with professional bodies. It states: “Accreditation with a relevant professional body provides assurances that individuals have achieved a substantial level of experience and training which is approved by their member organisation.”
PSA-accredited talking therapy registrants represent a valuable resource, many with years of experience. We would like to see their skills being fully utilised to help those struggling with their mental health, and in turn protect our health service now and in the years to come.
The National Counselling Society therefore backs the call to end the postcode lottery, to ensure counselling is easily accessible by all through GP practices and that this support is made available in a timely manner.