AROUND 4000 fewer people were able to engage in face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) during 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This year did however see an increase of 4000 patients starting computerised CBT through NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) and it is expected that this service will become more integrated into the overall mental health programme in 2021.

It comes as an FOI reveals the number of patients who received a CBT intervention and attended individual therapy through NHSGGC dropped from 10,579 in 2019 to 6806 by the end of November 2020.

The number of people in group therapy sessions decreased from 2518 to 1212 in the same time frame. Both the NHS and mental health charities have stressed the importance of care for people struggling this year.

A spokesman for NHSGCC said: “Unfortunately, Covid-19 impacted our ability to deliver a full suite of mental health services at the beginning of the pandemic, resulting in fewer people being able to engage with CBT.

“However, during this time we have ensured all emergency mental health services remained available 24/7 and inpatient care has continued to be provided.

“Patients have also been able to receive face-to-face appointments for clinical assessments where the level of risk and need has deemed this necessary.

“We have further invested in additional resources, including the recruitment of more staff and increasing the use of e-health technologies, such as video calls.

“Our computerised CBT sessions have continued to run throughout, serving as an alternative to face-to-face consultations.

“So far in 2020, we’ve seen upwards of 4,000 patients starting computerised CBT and numbers will continue to increase as the service becomes more integrated into our overall mental health offering.

“Additionally, we are working closely with partners and reviewing our pathways to make sure it’s as easy as possible for people who need to engage with CBT, to receive a rapid referral to services.”

SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) works with adults and young people providing mental health support and education in more than 60 communities.

The charity highlighted that almost 50% of people with depression across Scotland had not been referred to therapy.

Carolyn Lochhead, Head of Communications and Public Affairs said: “Even before the coronavirus pandemic, people were struggling to access psychological therapies, including CBT.

“Our research revealed 48% of people struggling with depression had not been referred for a psychological therapy and that 46% had not been given any options for treatment and support at all.

“The lack of referrals this year will now see a build-up of unmet need from people seeking help before and during the pandemic.

“We know the NHS and mental health sector has been under tremendous strain within these unprecedented times, but it’s essential that people can get access to psychological therapies when required. We urge the Scottish Government to make investment in mental health support a priority, along with psychological therapy provision across the country.”