Published On: 1 November 2023Tags: , ,

NHS ‘Talking Therapies’ review identifies barriers and opportunities in accessing care

A landmark independent review of services provided by NHS Talking Therapies has identified that psychotherapy services need better tailoring to meet the needs of Black and minoritised ethnic groups.

Ten years of anonymised patient data found that historically, people from Black and minoritised ethnic backgrounds have experienced poorer access to, and outcomes from, NHS talking therapies. Over this time period, compared to White British groups, they are less likely to access services, tend to wait longer for assessment and to access treatments. 

The data also showed that poor outcomes were faced by people from South Asian communities, in particular Bangladeshi groups. People of mixed ethnicity, mostly White and Black Caribbean, are the least likely to access these services.

The comprehensive assessment review – ‘Ethnic Inequalities in Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), was undertaken in partnership with the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH). 

It noted poor outcomes can be tackled and even disappear when access is improved, and culturally sensitive therapy is provided. People from Black African backgrounds using IAPT services were sometimes more likely to improve and recover in comparison with White British people.

The new report from the NHS Race & Health Observatory calls on commissioners, clinicians, and healthcare organisations to address ethnic health inequalities. This can be done by improving resources and training to enhance understanding of mental health inequality, and by recruiting culturally sensitive and ethnically diverse therapists. 

The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme was launched fifteen years ago with the ambition of greatly enhancing access to talking therapies for millions of service users. This landmark review from the looks back over the performance of the IAPT programme, exploring ethnic inequalities in the programme in terms of access, outcomes, and experience. It does so by drawing upon extensive data analysis, a review of literature, and engagement with individuals with lived experience. With the IAPT programme now relaunched as NHS Talking Therapies for anxiety and depression, its looks at what has been achieved and what needs to be done to achieve race equality.

Read the summary report, full report and appendices.