Smart Phones vs Therapists
Recently, former Labour Health Minister Lord Darzi has put forward the notion that due to a lack of therapists, smart phones could be used to help people with mental health issues. Whilst apps can be a useful tool to assist with the therapeutic process (even I have created an app as a means of support for my clients) it is folly to believe that an app can take the place of a trained therapist. Additionally, it is erroneous to state that there is a lack of qualified help for people with psychological issues in the UK. There are literally thousands of psychotherapists in the UK who currently have availability in their diaries for additional clients. The UK has always been at the forefront of psychotherapeutic development and training.
It seems to me that this is an example of trying to get therapy on the cheap through the NHS. Whilst, I completely understand that there are constraints on the money the NHS has for mental health services, mental health has always been the “poor cousin” to physical health and this idea of therapy apps to replace therapists is another example of this. Rather than looking at gimmicks the NHS should be looking to the professional bodies within the profession to devise innovative ways to help those in genuine need of therapy, but who may not have the resources to source therapy privately.
Mental health policy in the UK has never truly been about helping people to get well, but rather it has been about helping people to become functional and to get back to work. In the 21st Century, surely, this is not the way. Mental and physical health should be seen as equal and necessary for us all. I hope that whichever party emerges as the next government, will no longer pay lip service to mental health but will actually be proactive in making good mental health a right for every citizen.