Good mental health and wellbeing requires people to receive appropriate support in the community when they need it most. Working with specialist providers such as ieso, West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who merged with Kent and Medway CCG on April 1 2020, aims to deliver the right mental health services at the right time, to meet the needs of the local population and give patients more choice with treatments.
In West Kent, IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) services for conditions such as anxiety disorder and depression are offered to adults who are 18 or over, as part of a free talking therapy programme. Working in partnership with West Kent, and alongside other initiatives such as Thinkaction and We Are With You, ieso provides high-intensity online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to referred patients with these conditions in the area. In the 2019/20 period, ieso treated 1959 West Kent patients, helping 86% of people get into treatment within six weeks, and resulting in 56% of people completing a course of treatment and moving to recovery, which is above IAPT targets.
Mental illness is the second-largest source of burden of disease in England. It is more common, long-lasting and impactful than any other health condition, with 1 in 4 people experiencing mental health issues each year. With an estimated 17% of the UK population aged 16+ dealing with common disorders such as anxiety and depression, Kent and Medway CCG has similar rates of mental illness to the national average.
Across England, the IAPT programme aims to improve adult access to psychological therapies through increased provision of evidence-based mental health treatments. With over one million people accessing IAPT services in England in the past year alone, the programme provides much needed talking therapy services such as CBT for adults with anxiety disorders and depression – offering everything from face to face therapy through to digitally delivered treatment. Patients are either referred to an IAPT service by their GP or a CCG commissions a provider to offer IAPT services so people can self-refer for treatment – local West Kent residents can access IAPT services including Ieso’s online CBT and the We Are With You services.
With mental health a growing public concern, Kent CCGs have been working to transform their healthcare services, focusing on the prevention, social care and proactive management of mental health. By embedding high quality mental healthcare treatment and digital delivery methods into the heart of local and primary care, their aim is to meet the goals set out in the NHS’s 10-year plan and Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.
West Kent CCG, for example, takes a proactive approach to mental health services, ensuring that an easy to access mental healthcare system is in place, that:
“Our priority is about giving patients the choice to select a treatment they feel will work for them, while also ensuring mental healthcare is easily accessible and available to all that need it,” said Zena Watson, Mental Health Project Manager at West Kent CCG. “While we understand some people will always prefer to visit their GP to discuss symptoms and treatment for anxiety and depression, we also encourage people to take action themselves if they feel their mental health is suffering.
“We work with our service providers to ensure that people can easily register and self-refer to one of our IAPT services. There is information and options available so patients can make informed decisions about their pathway to recovery. They can select a treatment based on their own symptoms, situation and requirements. This can be through a GP or alternatively, patients can self-refer directly.”
As a leading IAPT service, ieso supports West Kent’s self-referral model, making online CBT available to local residents in the area. From 2017, ieso was contracted through Thinkaction in West Kent to provide 15% of the IAPT services, which worked well from a digital therapy standpoint. However, while Thinkaction (now We Are With You) still works alongside Ieso to provide digital therapy to West Kent residents, from May 2019 the CCG contracted directly with ieso. This gives West Kent direct ownership over the relationship, meaning they have more control over service management, delivery and reporting back to IAPT and the NHS.
“We have worked with ieso for a number of years – first through Thinkaction but now directly, which means that we can offer high-quality digital mental health therapy services while increasing accessibility and mobilising more people into treatment. As part of contracting with ieso, we have increased service delivery from 15% to 25% of the total contracted IAPT services, so we have capacity to scale up as needed and better manage incoming referrals across West Kent,” continued Zena.
Being an online digital service, patients in West Kent can get access to and connect with ieso therapists remotely from the comfort of their own homes within weeks, which moves people from referral to treatment quickly, and ideal for those unable to travel to appointments or confined to homes. ieso’s service offers true flexibility and choice in terms of the time and location a patient receives therapy – so outside normal working hours if they prefer. The text-based nature of ieso’s online CBT also provides more discretion in therapist / patient communication, as conversations can happen in messaging form away from others who could be listening, and is ideal for anyone nervous about meeting a therapist face to face.
In the 2019/2020 period, 9663 people entered treatment across all IAPT mental health services from across the West Kent area, with ieso treating 1959 of these patients. ieso has also over-achieved against IAPT targets, supporting West Kent’s waiting list reduction programme and helping the CCG with continued improvement of recovery rates.
“We have always worked well with the ieso team; they are very positive and professional. We have found service management to be excellent and the team also helps to support our data analysis.” concluded Zena.
NHS year April 2019-March 2020
1959 patients entered into ieso treatment. 1643 of these patients completed treatment
Recovery Rate: 56% (IAPT target 50%)
Improvement Rate: 60%
o 60% treated with 4 weeks
o 83% treated with 6 weeks (IAPT target 75%)
o 96% within 18 weeks (IAPT target 95%)
1. A self-referral model means GPs can educate on the best IAPT treatment available but patients make their own selection based on their own symptoms, situation and requirements. Patients can also self-refer without the need to visit their GP. Both options give control back to the patient.
2. Digital delivery of therapy provides flexibility to patients in terms of availability, can be delivered remotely anytime, and is more accessible for more patients across demographics.
3. With its own therapists and ability to scale up as needed, ieso’s service deployment and management is easy and pain free.
1. Consider online therapy to help reach patients remotely and quickly, while also reducing waiting times to move patients into treatment quickly.
2. Think about taking more capacity to scale as demand increases.
3. Online therapy is generally in parity with face-to-face therapy but is more discrete for those wanting more privacy or not wanting to meet someone face-to-face.
By working with over half of all NHS CCGs, ieso is already one of the UK’s most trusted online therapy providers.
With our sessions being typed or taking place over video, and available around the clock, we’re able to reach patients like never before. While patients get better access to mental healthcare that is just as effective as face-to-face therapy, but that benefits from evidence-based insight gained from the tens of thousands of people we’ve already helped.
And by sharing the learnings from our network of fully-qualified clinicians with the entire NHS community, we are able to offer anyone, anywhere access to better mental healthcare, to help them get better, faster.
Find out more about ieso.
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 Kent Public Health Observatory. September 2019
 Public Health England. Health profile for England: 2019 [Internet]. 2019. Available from: gov.uk
 Mental Health Taskforce NE. The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. 2016 [cited 2017 May 23]; Available from: england.nhs.uk