People suffering mental health problems in West Devon are being assured that despite the cancellation of a counselling contract, they can still get help through the NHS.
Counsellors contracted to support clients through referral by their GPs are concerned that patients might lose out on help after their NHS contract was cancelled.
The service accepted referrals to social prescribers (covering referring people to as range of local services to meet non-clinical needs) or to mental health teams.
This was cancelled at short notice by the NHS Integrated Care System (ICS) involving seven service providers.
However, NHS managers have emphasised they can still offer a comprehensive psychological therapy service through Talkworks provided by mental health provider Devon Partnership NHS Trust.
The West Devon service is provided at offices on the Quay, next to Tavistock Library.
Graeme Webster, Joint Clinical Team Lead for Talkworks (South Hams and West Devon), said: ‘Talkworks is a well respected service and is providing successful outcomes above the national average.
‘That means we are supporting our patients through the treatment to meet their needs and helping them deal with the issues they are presenting with to their GPs and us.’
The people they are seeing live with common mental health issues such as low mood and anxiety.
Graeme said: ‘This can include social anxiety which can really badly affect daily life when people are worried about talking to others.
‘This can mean therefore, that people can’t carry out their jobs effectively or lead life to the full, including socialising.
‘We help people experiencing panic attacks and people who worry excessively, feeling overwhelmed by the stresses of life. We also help people with PTSD.’
Talkworks offers therapy and counselling carried out in groups or one-to-one either online or face-to-face.
The service offers a wide range of therapies to suit an individual and their needs.
Graeme said online therapy worked as well as face-to-face.
He said: ‘People often think video therapy and counselling is not as effective as face-to-face but the evidence is that working remotely is just as effective, as long as the person is comfortable with it. Talkworks started to offer a service online during lockdown and we have carried on using it since then, like other areas of the NHS.’
Anyone wanting support should contact TALKWORKS, the NHS Talking Therapies service, by calling 0300 555 3344. Talkworks can also be accessed to self-refer and to find out much more information by visiting talkworks.dpt.nhs.uk.
An NHS in Devon spokesman said following the review of services anyone currently being seen by one of the existing providers, or on a waiting list, will complete treatment or be moved to other support.