More people than ever are receiving psychological therapies and recovering, according to data from NHS England.
The end of year data has shown that the number of people referred for psychological treatment between January and March increased on Quarter 3 (Q3) by 17,184 to a total 367,689 patients.
This means the initial 15% access target was exceeded and hit a new high of 16.8%.
Furthermore, the number of people recovering hit an average 48.2% in Quarter 4 (Q4), which is up from 45.9% in Q3.
In April, the data found that 21,117 people had moved to recovery, resulting in a recovery rate of 49% – the highest rate seen so far, missing the standard by just 1%.
NHS England also found that waiting times for psychological therapies continue to surpass the standard that 75% of people should start treatment within six weeks.
In April, 84.6% of people starting treatment were within 6 weeks of referral, and 97.1% within 18 weeks.
NHS England is currently committed to providing access to treatment for at least 15% of people with anxiety disorders and depression.
They are also committed to a standard of seeing 50% of people recover after treatment and 75% receiving treatment within six weeks of referral and 95% within 18 weeks.
Dr Tim Kendall, NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health, said: “We’re really pleased that a growing number of people are getting access to psychological treatment and that they are doing so in a timely way.
“This is great news. While we know there are many challenges with providing speedy and appropriate care in this area we are working to improve care.
“Workforce is one of our biggest challenges but the recent Mental Health Implementation Plan has committed to training 4,500 extra therapists by 2021 and developing new integrated psychological therapies services alongside physical healthcare.”
The Mental Health Forward View and Implementation Plan commits that by 2020/21 there should be increased access to psychological therapies so at least 25%, or 1.5 million people, with common mental health conditions will access services each year.
As part of this expansion, the majority of new services will be integrated with physical healthcare as 3,000 new mental health therapists are co-located in primary care, as set out in the General Practice Forward View.
To support better integrating physical and mental health services NHS England has committed to a two-year investment, including £17.8 million in 2016/17 and up to £54 million in 2017/18 for training new staff and delivering new “early implementer” integrated services.
This money will also help expand psychological therapies in up to a third of all clinical commissioning groups through building ‘Integrated Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ services.
These will be co-located in and integrated with physical health services to improve health for people with mental and physical health problems or persistent and distressing unexplained medical symptoms.