A joint project between the Health and Social Services Department, local GPs and the charity MIND Jersey will provide an enhanced range of psychological therapies for Islanders.
As part of the campaign to remove the stigma that has been associated with mental health issues, Jersey Talking Therapies (JTT) will be delivered in GP surgeries or from a central town hub, with an additional option of phone therapy for those who prefer it.
JTT, scheduled to launch in Autumn 2014, is for adults of all ages and covers many common mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias, panic and post-traumatic stress disorder. Help will also be available for those who are concerned that excessive drinking may be harming their health.
Access to qualified professional therapists will be straightforward – people will have easy access and have the ability to telephone a helpline for advice and support and also access the service from normal routes such as GP surgeries. Individuals seeking help will be given leaflets about JTT including contact details. Those who call the service are provided an appointment time over the phone, and from this point onwards the service is free-of-charge.
The launch of JTT is part of ongoing work which HSSD are undertaking with other partners to redesign health services for Islanders, as outlined in the department’s 2012 White Paper ‘Caring for Each Other, Caring for Ourselves.’
The topic of mental health and ensuring that mental health services are accessible to Islanders were key themes in the White Paper.
Dr Tracy Wade, Director of Counselling and Psychotherapy, said the principle of JTT would be to provide bespoke therapy to those who need it.
“Therapists will see people for an assessment and offer the right type of therapy at the right time by the right people,” she said. “We will be offering a range of different types of evidence-based therapeutic interventions recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive Analytic Therapy and access to counselling.”
Dr Wade added that she anticipated JTT would play a significant role in further reducing the length of time patients waited for therapy. This follows significant progress by the Psychological Assessment and Therapy Service: waiting times for initial assessment have been cut to two months, patients requiring one-to-one therapy are now seen within six weeks, and the wait for counselling interventions is four to six weeks.
Partnering with MIND Jersey provides additional benefits for JTT, as the charity’s Executive Director James Le Feuvre explained:
“The public can access a course of Computerised Cognitive Behaviour Therapy directly via the MIND Jersey website and also book themselves onto a range of different psycho-educational workshops, which are designed to help people to manage their mood and stress levels and improve their assertion skills,” he said.
The accessibility of JTT was the prime advantage highlighted by Dr Nigel Minihane, Chairman of the Primary Care Body which represents Jersey GPs.
“Patients can be seen quickly and conveniently in their local surgery and once referred to JTT they can continue to be seen in a primary care setting, or speak to a therapist by phone,” he said. “We know that some patients are put off accessing services because they worry they will be ‘labelled’ and the stigma associated with this.”