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Source: Hearts and Minds Inc

Research suggests ‘group therapy’ and other community-based services could help cut mental health waiting lists
Offering more ‘group therapy’ could help cut waiting lists for mental health services, new research suggests.
The research, by Economics NZ, found that group therapy is as clinically effective as one-on-one counselling for people with mild-to-moderate mental health conditions.
It is also much more cost effective.
“This research highlights that a group therapy approach has the potential to improve access to treatment for many people with mild-to-moderate mental health conditions,” says Carol Ryan, CEO of Hearts & Minds, which commissioned the research.
“It is a clinically effective, and cost-effective, way to treat many people with conditions such as anxiety, stress and trauma,” Ms Ryan said.
“The research found that four out of five people who completed a group therapy course with Hearts & Minds said they were copying better afterwards.
“The therapy is also very cost effective – the cost per person is a third or less of the cost of one-on-one counselling.”
The research found there could be significant economic benefits to New Zealand from using group therapy as part of an early intervention approach to mild-to-moderate mental health conditions.
“The research found the economic payback of group therapy was $4.70 for every $1 spent. This pay back came from people becoming well enough to go back to work, or becoming more productive at work.”
Early intervention helps stop people tipping over into more severe illness, which is harder and more expensive to treat, Ms Ryan says.
Another way Hearts & Minds’ speeds up access to support is through its health navigation services.
“People with mental health conditions often have complex needs, and meeting these needs can mean they need help from several health and social agencies.
“But when you’re not well, navigating these agencies can be extremely difficult.
“That’s where our one-on-one and online health navigation services come in. They help people find the support they need much more quickly.”
Hearts and Minds is a not-for-profit that offers mental health services in north Auckland and Northland. It commissioned the research to highlight the clinical and economic benefits of its group therapy, and other, services.
“We’d like health funders to read this research and to consider the clinical and economic benefits of early intervention and group therapy.
“Currently many people with mild-to-moderate conditions visit their GP and are directed towards traditional one-on-one counselling.
“However, even after a recent significant boost to funding of mental health services, there can be long waiting lists to see counsellors. This means some people aren’t getting the help they need.
“This research shows that expanding the use of group therapy and other community-based services could be one way to reduce waiting lists for many people with mild-to-moderate conditions.
“It could also help make the mental health budget stretch further.”