Online therapy is as effective as standard care in treating mental illness

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New research from the University of York in collaboration with ieso Digital Health Ltd and Dorset HealthCare University NHS Trust has found that web-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) offers comparable clinical efficacy to standard care, but at a lower cost.

The study, published in Nature Mental Health, could have significant implications for mental health services and policy.

How does internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy work?

In the study, text-based therapies were offered online that included a series of questions to which the patient typed answers.

A professional therapist supported the patient via online communication. These online therapies can be accessed both privately and through the NHS.

Why is that important?

Most previous research in the field of mental health cost analysis has focused on generalized anxiety and major depression without extensively discussing the cost-effectiveness of different treatment modalities, including digital interventions.

What were the key findings?

The research team analyzed data from 27,540 patients using NHS services in England and assessed the main cost drivers for different treatment options, particularly for depression and generalized anxiety disorder.

cost drivers: Treatment efficacy, time from referral to end of treatment, and costs associated with treatment were identified as the main cost drivers.

Reduced waiting and treatment times: Online therapy reduced waiting and treatment times, sometimes by half.

savings measures: According to Sam Harper, a research consultant involved in the study, shorter treatment and waiting times could save the NHS a significant amount of money and improve patient outcomes.

The data suggests an average annual saving of around £600m for people with all levels of anxiety and depression.

Implications for policy and future research

The study found that cost savings were greater for patients with depression than those with anxiety, and even greater for severe cases. This could be valuable data for policy makers and healthcare administrations.

However, the researchers acknowledge that further studies are needed to understand services in different parts of the UK and get a full picture of cost-effectiveness.

Bring away

The study underscores the growing body of evidence supporting the use of online mental health interventions.

It shows that such services can not only potentially save money, but also effectively treat millions of people suffering from anxiety and depression.

Policy makers may now have sufficient data to consider integrating internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) into mainstream mental health services, thereby increasing the accessibility and affordability of mental health care.

If you care about health, please read studies where scientists find a central feature of depression and that this metal in the brain is closely linked to depression.

For more health-related information, see recent studies on mental health drugs that can damage the brain and the results showing that this therapy is more effective than ketamine in treating major depression.

The study was published in Nature Mental Health.

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Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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