Twice as many people with mental health conditions are being given virtual therapy on the NHS compared with before the pandemic began.
An Observer analysis of data from private providers, cross-checked against NHS figures, reveals around one in three mental health treatments in England are delivered online, up from one in five in 2019, and one in 10 in 2017. Patients with mild to moderate depression or anxiety can be referred to app- or web-based, self-guided cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) courses, instead of traditional face-to-face talking therapies.
While some patients undergoing online therapy receive weekly phone or video calls with a therapist to discuss their progress, many are expected to work through the exercises themselves.
These patients are typically introduced to the programme by a healthcare professional, who then reviews them at the end of the virtual course.