Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary said that computer based therapy will be available for patients suffering from mild depression and anxiety. This will be available to all patients in England from April.
Two computer programs- Fear fighter and Beating the blues have been designed as therapies for depression and anxiety besides medication. However, health experts have warned that computer aided programs may not be suitable for everyone and needs more funding to train therapists.
Department of Health issued guidelines which advocates local NHS trusts to provide computer therapies to people with mild depression and anxiety before prescribing medicines. These programs can be accessed either from home or from a local library.
Effective handling of stressful situations and negative thoughts are taught by these programs. Fear Fighter is said to treat people who have phobias or suffer from panic attacks. Beating the Blues helps people suffering from mild to moderate depression.
Ms. Hewitt also reported that they want to give more options to their patients in terms of the location and mode of treatment. On April 1st, quicker access to computer based self help in mental therapies will be reached.
According to Paul Farmer, the chief Executive of Mind, the computerized therapy will be advantageous to patients as there is no waiting time involved. But he also felt that it may not be suitable for everyone. The main focus here is that patients have options now.
Though this therapy was welcomed by clinical psychologist Martin Bamber, he stated that this should not replace the face-to-face treatment. He warned that patients needed advice from a mental health professional and cautioned people from using the computer programs unsupervised at home.
Windy Dryden, professor of psychotherapeutic studies at Goldsmiths College, London, felt that these programs could come in handy in cases where people felt too shy to talk to a therapist in person. He also felt that computer programs may not have the flexibility to probe different angles of an issue.