Boost for mental health services in Suffolk with announcement of new NHS Talking Therapies service

People in Suffolk experiencing anxiety and depression are to benefit from an enhanced new NHS Talking Therapies service providing tailored care and support as close to their home or place of work as possible.

The new partnership approach brings together voluntary, community, social enterprise and statutory (VCSE) organisations and will ensure people in Suffolk can get quick and easy access to talking therapies services, enabling them to live their lives with improved mental health.

The contract award for NHS Talking Therapies, known locally as Wellbeing Services has been announced today by NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB). The new contract will start on 1 September 2024 and will be in place for a minimum of five years.

NHS Talking Therapies are effective, confidential and free treatments delivered by trained clinicians, online, on the phone or in person. A range of therapies are offered depending on people’s symptoms, from guided self-help, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), counselling for depression, to interpersonal therapy (IPT) and mindfulness based cognitive therapy.

Patients will be able to continue to self-refer into the new service or ask their GP to refer them. The services are available to anyone aged 16 or above and living in Suffolk.

Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises working with NSFT in partnership to deliver the new service include:

  • MTCIC, providing counselling services, a social enterprise, not for profit organisation
  • Relate providing couples counselling
  • Shaw Trust providing employment support
  • Suffolk Family Carers facilitating wellbeing support to carers.

Dr Ed Garratt OBE, Chief Executive Officer, NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB, said: “Through engaging and listening to local people we heard that people wanted more accessible and equitable talking therapies services, an expanded online support offer and for more work to take place collaboratively with a wider range of services and VCSE organisations.

“This innovative new multi-partnership approach will provide the improvements that local people have asked for, resulting in an expanded and improved access to tailored treatment and support for people who would benefit from talking therapies.

“This is a really positive step forward in our ambition to improve outcomes and experiences for local service users, families and carers across Suffolk, and will make seeking help as convenient, quick and straight-forward as possible.

“I look forward to working with the partners over the next few months and years to ensure our local communities across Suffolk have access to high quality, safe and efficient mental health services, supporting them closer to home and in environments which are more tailored to their individual needs and requirements.”

Caroline Donovan, Chief Executive Officer, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said: “I am delighted that this new innovative proposal has been selected to further improve and transform our NHS Talking Therapies services across Suffolk.

“Our engagement with service users, families and carers in developing this further improved and transformed service was essential in shaping the new model.

“This is great news for our local NHS Talking Therapies services and testament to the work and support our staff and partner organisations are already providing to our existing and new service users, families and carers. It means we can continue to build on the work we have done so far, across Norfolk and Suffolk to further improve NHS Talking Therapies services.

“Collectively, we are determined to ensure that our service users, families, carers and wider communities across Suffolk and north east Essex receive the right care at the right time and right place to achieve safer, kinder and better mental health services in the future.”