Friday, 1 February 2013

UK: Patients call for better mental health provision while GPs are sceptical that access will improve

31 January, 2013
  • Over half the population have had a mental health issue at some point in their lives
  • 85% fear that their mental health will deteriorate during long waits for therapy
  • 75% of GPs have to prescribe medication when they feel psychological therapies would be more effective
  • Less than a quarter of GPs believe that access to psychological therapies will improve
While the Government has pledged better access to mental health treatments by 2015, new research by Aviva reveals patients are still greatly concerned about the impact long waiting times for treatment could have on mental health conditions.

Four out of five people (85%) surveyed for Aviva’s Health of the Nation1 report are worried that any mental health illness they had would deteriorate if they have lengthy waits for talking therapies such as counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Nearly three-quarters (73%) also say they don’t think the Government and NHS are doing enough to tackle mental health problems.

The majority of patients (51%) feel that a period of 2-3 weeks is the maximum time they should wait for treatment following a referral for counselling or a psychological service, with 29% believing treatment should be accessible within a week.

Over half (52%) of those surveyed for the report said that they have suffered from a mental health condition (e.g. depression, stress, anxiety) at some point in their lives. Of these, 9% still feel unwell and 21% still suffer from their condition from time to time. Three in five (58%) of those who sought help from their GP for a mental health related issue were prescribed drugs.

The report by the health insurance provider also highlights GPs’ experiences and concerns over mental health provision in their local area, with four in five GPs (84%) saying there are long2 waiting lists for talking therapies.

Half of GPs (50%) say their local Trust provides a poor service for patients with mental health issues, and 37% believe the service is poor for depression, the most common mental health condition cited by patients at 35%. Over two-thirds of GPs (68%) also feel they don’t get enough support regarding mental health issues.

GPs also express doubts that access to talking therapies such as CBT will improve over the next few years, with over a third of GPs (35%) saying they don’t think access will improve compared to just 23% who believe it will. This is despite the belief by over three-quarters of GPs (77%) that mental health issues will continue to be the single biggest issue they will treat over the next year.

Regional breakdown of GPs reporting long waiting times, use of drugs for mental health treatment as an alternative, increases in numbers of patients with mental health conditions:
GPs reporting long waiting times for talking therapiesGPs reporting they are prescribing medication when they believe talking therapies would be more effectiveGPs reporting increased number of patients with mental health condition (non stress or anxiety)
Scotland94%West Midlands93%North East71%
Wales92%Yorkshire & the Humber92%Wales67%
South east92%Scotland88%West Midlands64%
East Anglia92%North West86%South East62%
North West86%Wales83%North West59%
North East86%East Anglia77%London57%
West Midlands86%South East70%Yorkshire & the Humber50%
London83%London65%East Midlands48%
Yorkshire & the Humber75%South West63%East Anglia46%
East Midlands71%North East57%Scotland44%
South West68%East Midlands48%South West37%
UK average84%UK average75%UK average55%

Dr Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva, UK Health, said: “The Government’s commitment to providing quicker access to mental health treatments is extremely welcome, but with such significant and widespread access issues, this will take time to
achieve. Clearly, patients with mental health illnesses need access to the right treatment as quickly as possible to minimise the decline of their health and the impact it has on their lives.

“Anyone with private medical insurance who is experiencing mental health issues should check whether it covers psychological treatments. Aviva’s individual and corporate private medical insurance provides all customers with out-patient cover for psychiatric treatments and a 24 hour stress counselling phone line for advice. In the last year, Aviva customers accessing treatments such as counselling and CBT on average started a treatment plan within a week of making a claim, which we believe is vital to the management of - and recovery from - mental health conditions.”

Aviva’s private medical insurance cover for individuals and businesses includes access to a 24 hour stress counselling helpline as well as enhanced psychiatric cover as standard.3 At the point of claim, Aviva customers have the support and advice of a dedicated expert clinical team, (including trained psychiatric nurses), to help them manage their claim and psychological treatment plan.

- Ends -

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact: Melissa Loughran: Aviva Press Office: 01904 452791: 07800 691947:

Notes to editors:

1. Aviva’s Health of the Nation report surveyed 1,000 consumers and 200 GPs in October 2012.

2. Mind’s campaign for psychological therapies reports that one in five patients with mental health conditions wait over 12 months to access psychological therapies and a third of people wait under six months. Rethink Mental Illness also reports that once a person has been referred for a particular therapy, the waiting times can be anything from 6 months to 2 years (Talking Therapies Factsheet August 2012)

3. In recognition of the increased demand for psychological therapies, Aviva’s individual PMI (Healthier Solutions) cover has recently been enhanced to provide more out-patient cover for psychiatric treatment. Customers can now claim up to £2,000 of treatment for psychological treatments per year. Aviva’s large corporate PMI cover, Optimum, (for companies with over 250 employees), allows employers to choose the level of cover they provide for in-patient, day-patient and out-patient psychiatric cover. Aviva’s corporate cover for smaller businesses, Solutions, provides out-patient cover for psychiatric treatment up to a limit of £1,000 per policy year.

Aviva provides insurance, savings and investment products to 43 million customers worldwide.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with over 14 million customers and one of Europe’s leading providers of life and general insurance. We combine strong life insurance, general insurance and asset management businesses under one powerful brand. We are committed to serving our customers well in order to build a stronger, sustainable business, which makes a positive contribution to society, and for which our people are proud to work.

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top ten most valuable brands and Aviva Plc is in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In 2011 we invested £5.3m into our UK communities. One in three of our employees were involved in community investment activities which included giving nearly 33,000 hours.

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life. Find out more at

The Aviva media centre at includes company information and a news release archive.

For broadcast-standard video, please visit

Follow us on twitter:

No comments:

Post a Comment