NHS workers are in the front line in the fight against Covid-19. Their mental health has to be a priority for their sustained well-being and success in fighting the virus. In an article in the Guardian on 23 April 2020 it was reported that half of NHS workers surveyed reported stress because of Covid-19. (1)
The Anxiety Wizard for the NHS program is a 15-module, self-help cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) programme that is designed to treat panic, anxiety, depression, and stress. It uses the clinical tools of the expert CBT therapist and translates these into self-help modules that teach and train everyone to become their own therapist.
The Anxiety Wizard programme puts the clinical tools normally taught by a therapist using CBT in their practice directly in the hands of the user. Anxiety Wizard for the NHS has more than 153 video and audio tools, and resources that make it the largest and most comprehensive online, standalone self-help CBT system in the world.
In normal circumstances, NHS staff suffer considerable stress and absence from work. In 2017-18, NHS staff took 17.7 million sick days with approximately one quarter of these related to mental health issues. However, NHS digital revealed that in 2018 mental health problems were the single most prevalent cause of sickness absence in the NHS (2).
The Kings Fund reported that staff sickness rates in the NHS are higher than in the rest of the economy. NHS staff sickness rates appear to be increasing; 4.1 per cent in April 2019. This was the highest level, at that time of year, in more than a decade and represented more than 1.4 million full-time equivalent (FTE) days lost in that month alone (3).
While talking therapies services are theoretically in place for all members of the public through the NHS, still the clinical need is not remotely met. Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) states that an estimated '1:6 adults have experienced a common mental health disorder like depression or anxiety in the past week' (4). And, while the NHS plans to spend £13 billion on mental health service in 2019/20, Dr Purves is providing a solution for those who wish to use it today; free to all NHS staff forever.
About Anxiety Wizard for the NHS (www.anxietywizard.4NHS.co.uk)
The rationale behind therapist-led CBT is that the client learns to challenge and change maladaptive thoughts and behaviours, leading to changed emotions and relief from panic, anxiety, depression, and stress. The process itself creates a health path that the patient follows to resolution.
However, perhaps the most important aspect of this process is the teaching of effective tools and techniques to achieve the therapeutic aim. For more than 20 years, Dr Purves has created online programs that ‘take out the middle man’ and teach the patient the tools of CBT directly.
This self-help CBT approach has proven effective in clinical trials with Blues Begone, the first self-help CBT program developed by Dr Purves (5,6). All subsequent programs of self-help CBT, developed by Dr Purves, have followed the strategy created and delivered in Blues Begone.
Anxiety Wizard for the NHS collects no personal information on the user other than an NHS email required for secure login. Therefore, there are no privacy or security concerns. It can be accessed on any device and used as needed, when needed.
The programme continues to undergo development and more modules are added, as the user base grows, reflecting the needs of its users.
In a world where many things will be different, provision of serious and effective remote mental services is now here.
Dr Purves is available for interview at:
- House of Commons Library Briefing paper number 6988, 23 January 2020.
- An open trial in the NHS of Blues Begone: a new home based computerised CBT programme. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19703330
- A randomised controlled trial of Blues Begone a stand-alone CBT programme. Abstracts for EABCT 2013 Congress. European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (p. 90-91). https://issuu.com/johnkentish/docs/abstract_book_eabct_2013_ab28fda9a21a9b
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- David Purves
- Berkshire Psychology Service
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