Health chiefs will email psychological treatment sessions in a bid to clear a backlog of more than 6,000 people waiting for therapy.
NHS Lothian will provide online cognitive behavioural therapy sessions with patients – while a recruitment drive is expected to help reduce the number of children and young people waiting too long for treatment. The health board currently has 6,056 people on its psychological therapy waiting list– with 2,743 having waited more than 18 months and 930 more than a year.
Belinda Hacking, NHS Lothian’s director of psychology services, said: The majority of waits are within adult mental health.
“Currently, about 25 per cent of people who are referred for mental health are seen within 18 weeks.
“We now have approval for two digital interventions, which I think is going to be really important – one is expanding a computerised package for people with long-term conditions, namely pain and diabetes. The second one is a very new product that Lothian is going to be one of the first sites to be using in Scotland.
“This is a company called Ieso who offer online cognitive behavioural therapy.
“There is a person at the other end and the therapy is done by email at segmented times – as if it was a treatment session. The treatment outcomes for that are very good.
“As well as benefiting patients, these initiatives will help ease waiting times pressure to access psychological therapies.”
Ieso’s website boasts that patients can “speak to a therapist from the comfort of your own home” and can help with stress, anxiety, depression, OCD, social anxiety, phobias and panic disorders.
In NHS Lothian’s child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), there are 2,538 young people on the waiting list. A total of 1,360 young people have been on the list for more than 18 weeks – with the board at 49 per cent of a 90 per cent Scottish Government target.