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25th Sep 2021

Free online counselling starts for people with depression and anxiety nationwide

Ellen Fitzpatrick

It began this week.

Free online counselling for those suffering from anxiety and depression has begun today nationwide after huge success with an initial pilot.

Around 88% of those with severe anxiety and depressions saw their symptoms reduced after attending the online counselling sessions, according to the pilot.

The cognitive behaviour therapy was done digitally over two months and found that 57% of people with clinical anxiety and depression were found to be “diagnosis-free” after the time period.

These services are provided by the HSE and available for people referred by their GP, primary care psychologists, the national counselling service and Jigsaw.

These treatments usually take eight to 12 weeks and the decisions made on what treatments are best suited are done by clinicians supporting service users, according to SilverCloud.

SilverCloud is an online mental health provider that has been contracted by the HSE to provide this new service.

According to HSE assistant national director for mental health operations Jim Ryan, many services were forced online due to Covid-19, saying: “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.

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

He added that the HSE will continue to invest in online services to improve access to them.

SilverCloud has also said that they will continue to improve engagement with the programme beyond the 12 weeks.

And when it comes to patients with more serious mental health needs, clinical governance structures are set in place to help deal with these cases.