Free online counseling therapy for anxiety and depression is offered nationwide following the success of a first pilot project.
Some 88 percent of patients who experienced severe anxiety and depression experienced significantly reduced symptoms after online counseling sessions, according to the pilot.
After two months of digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), 57% of users with a clinical diagnosis of anxiety and depression were found to be “undiagnosed.”
The service is paid for by the HSE and available to referrals from general practitioners, primary care psychologists, the national counseling service and the Jigsaw mental health charity.
Treatment typically takes around eight to 12 weeks, and treatment decisions are made by clinicians who support service users, according to SilverCloud, an online provider of mental health supports who has been hired by the HSE to provide the service. .
Covid-19 forced many mental health services online for a while, but also opened up access, according to HSE’s deputy national director for mental health operations Jim Ryan.
“There are many people who can receive effective treatment for mental health problems at the primary care level and we know that early intervention can make a huge difference.
“Programs like SilverCloud, with clinical supervision, will provide timely support to people who would otherwise have to wait for a face-to-face consultation.
The HSE will continue to invest in online services to improve access to appropriate media, he said.
SilverCloud says results continue to improve with continued engagement with the program beyond 12 weeks.
Where patients have more severe mental health needs, clinical governance structures are in place to escalate cases, he says.