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Managing depression

Management of depression and anxiety in the UK has been transformed thanks to researchers at The University of Manchester.

Their work on CBT - Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - has shaped government policy on mental health.

More than one million NHS patients have benefited from the IAPT - Improving Access to Psychological Therapies - initiative set up in line with their recommendations.

Recovery rates are more than 45% and over 45,000 people have moved off benefits as a result of the scheme.

CBT is first-line treatment for hundreds of thousands of people suffering from depression and anxiety disorders.

A team led by Karina Lovell, a Professor of Mental Health at The University of Manchester, began evaluating its impact in 1998 at a time when demand was exceeding resources.

Working with researchers at the University's National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, they carried out studies to establish its effectiveness and looked into ways of improving access to treatments.

Groundbreaking projects included the first Guided Self Help Clinics across 36 GP practices in a Primary Care Trust in Manchester. Other initiatives targeted 'hard to reach' groups including, BME (Black, Minority and Ethic) and older people.

Research showed the effectiveness of telephone-delivered therapies in breaking down barriers in a range of patients, including adults and young people, and those unable to attend face-to-face appointments.

National UK mental health policy now increasingly advocates the use of the telephone to deliver help based on their work.
Professor Lovell has trained more than 2,000 UK mental health practitioners and therapists to deliver therapies both face-to-face and via the telephone.

Researchers worked with major employers like BT and a range of charities, including Anxiety UK, which has supported more than a million people, to develop telephone and Skype services.

National guidelines on the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anxiety have also been developed in line with their research.

The group's booklet 'A Recovery Programme for Depression' is widely used in the NHS and by organisations like the mental health charity 'Rethink'.

Other self-help publications have focussed on everything from agoraphobia to dealing with chronic pain.

NB: This study was selected as one of 16 UK entries to be presented at 'A healthy future for UK medical research' - the 'All Parliamentary Group on Medical Research' Summer Reception - on 16 June 2014. Of the 16 winning entries, two are from The University of Manchester.

See poster: Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies‌ (PDF, 604 KB)

"Our self-help manual for depression is used in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies services and approximately 13,000 manuals are used every year."

Karina Lovell / Professor of Mental Health