Free online counselling to begin for those with anxiety and depression in Ireland

Free Online Counselling To Begin For Those With Anxiety And Depression In Ireland
57% of users with a clinical diagnosis were found to be 'diagnosis-free' after two months of digitally-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Photo: PA Images.
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Free online counselling therapy for anxiety and depression is available across Ireland following the success of an initial pilot.

The Irish Times reports that the pilot found 88 per cent of patients who presented with severe anxiety and depression experienced significantly reduced symptoms after the online counselling sessions.

Furthermore, 57 per cent of users with a clinical diagnosis of anxiety and depression were found to be “diagnosis-free” after two months of digitally-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).

The service is available to people referred by GPs, primary care psychologists, the national counselling service and Jigsaw mental health charity. It is paid for by the HSE.

Treatment generally takes about eight to 12 weeks and decisions on treatment are made by clinicians supporting service users.

Open up access

SilverCloud, an online provider of mental health supports, has been contracted by the HSE to provide the service.

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HSE assistant national director for mental health operations, Jim Ryan, said the Covid-19 pandemic forced many mental health services online for a period, but also opened up access.

“Many people can receive effective treatment for mental health difficulties at primary care level and we know that early intervention can make a huge difference,” he said.

“Programmes like SilverCloud, with clinical oversight, will provide timely support to people who might otherwise have to wait for a face-to-face consultation.”

Clinical governance structures are in place to escalate cases where patients have more serious mental health needs, SilverCloud has said.

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