16 January 2013
Lightbulb Innovation: A web-based self-help programme for people with stress, anxiety and depression
03 08 2012 | Frontline First team
A web-based self-help programme for people with stress, anxiety and depression has been developed by a nurse in Wales.
The Serenity Programme, as it's known, has been accessed over 25,000 times since its launch two years ago, and won numerous awards. The Programme enables people to receive treatment for common mental health problems in their own homes, without the need to travel or attend NHS mental health premises. This is particularly important for those who cannot access health services during office hours, people with agoraphobia or individuals who are fearful of the stigma of mental health.
Steve Cottrell, Consultant Nurse Therapist at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (Colwyn Bay), designed and developed this innovative programme, and crucially, says Steve, "users of the service were involved in the design from day one."
So why a self-help programme? Steve has been involved in cognitive behaviour therapy for many years, and understands that different people have different needs. This Programme involves running focus groups with long term unemployed people and others who are identified as being in need of help. There is a real requirement for an individual programme which is easily accessible as we see cutbacks in services which are often leading to longer waiting times for people who need help. Longer waiting lists for one-to-one therapy have also led to an increase in group therapy, in spite of the need for one-to-one support.
Referrals from primary care are assessed and entered onto a programme which blends face-to-face contact with an Internet-based programme and telephone support. This innovation is not only improving patient care, it’s also saving money as a result of increased throughput, with 100% greater than Treatment As Usual (TAU) and reduced need to travel for both users and practitioners. The programme is at least as effective as TAU, cheaper to provide and delivers a higher rate of user satisfaction. As one client puts it, "I really liked the points of interest, helpful hints, and breakdown of what was wrong and how I could deal with it".