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We still need to talk: A report on access to talking therapies

The We need to talk coalition is calling for the NHS in England to offer a full range of evidencebased psychological therapies to all who need them within 28 days of requesting a referral, and this wait should be even shorter when someone presents with a mental health emergency.

Accessing the right treatment at the right time can mean recovering well from a mental health problem. Timely access to good quality psychological therapy provision is essential and although the Government has made good progress with its Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, there is still much to do before people with mental health problems receive the crucial help and support they need.

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 put mental health on a par with physical health and the Government reiterated this commitment through its current mental health strategy No health without mental health. Furthermore, the current Mandate to NHS England clearly requires NHS England to achieve parity of esteem between mental and physical health. As a first step towards achieving this commitment, timely and appropriate access to psychological therapies must be available in the NHS to all who need them.

The Mandate sets specific objectives on establishing access standards for IAPT services, yet our research has shown that demand for crucial psychological therapies continues to increase while people are still waiting far too long to access a service. While the We need to talk coalition fully welcomes the pledge to establish access standards for IAPT services, we remain extremely concerned that the Government are at risk of failing to meet their duty to deliver parity of esteem between mental and physical health, if waiting times for psychological therapies continue to increase.