Patients suffering from mild depression and anxiety in England will have an opportunity to use computer-based therapy starting from April this year.
Two computer programs will be available, “Fear Fighter” and “Beating the Blues”, as an alternative to medical therapy.
Experts have stressed that such behavioural therapy may not be suitable for all patients and called for extra funding to train and recruit more therapists.
The two programs would teach patients to deal with stressful situations and negative thoughts and try to change beliefs and behaviour. They could be reached from home or the local library and even from health facilities.
Beating the Blues program helps people with mild to moderate depression while Fear Fighter focuses on phobias and panic attacks. The programs asks users to chose specific scenarios that trigger their problems and then confront these scenarios in the real life without running away (from a buss for example)
Computerised therapy is set out for people who were too embarrassed to talk about their problems and seek help or for those who have been waiting for months to see a doctor. The only problem with the programs is that they lack flexibility and do not allow patients to explore their problems in more depth if they wanted to.
Computerised therapy is not meant to replace face-to-face behavioral treatment and that every patient needs an input from a mental health professional.
In trials, this computerised approach proved to be beneficial as people have logged in from work, home and anywhere they could access the internet even from halfway around the world just to continue their treatments.