Tens of thousands of pounds has been awarded for a pilot scheme in South West London to train healthcare staff in therapy to treat depression and anxiety.

Research has shown 30 per cent of patients with long-term physical health problems also suffer from mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

A £40,000 grant to the South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) has been awarded to train GP practice staff and selected healthcare staff across Sutton and Merton to run cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) informed courses for their patients.

The therapy is an effective way of treating conditions including depression and anxiety through discussion with a trained therapist.

Steve Sheward, a CBT therapist, said: “This is a preventative measure.

“The target group for the project do not have severe mental health problems and it is hoped that this help can stop that happening.

“CBT can also help with the care they receive for their physical problems as they are more likely to stick to treatment programmes and will, in the long-term, have fewer visits to GP surgeries and A&E.”

Experts from SWLSTG will visit GP practices and other healthcare centres to run education courses which will help the professionals to build on the CBT skills they already have to provide a service to their patients.

The course will include identifying unhelpful reactions to long term conditions, breaking unhelpful cycles of inactivity and avoidance, mood management, setting goals and achieving a balanced lifestyle.

Following the sessions, a psychologist will be available to for up to one year to advise the teams on how to run CBT sessions and provide the best care to their patients.

A spokesperson for Health Education South London, which awarded the £40,000 for the pilot project, said: “Health Education South London is pleased to fund this project as one of our first Innovation Awards.

“We want to develop a workforce capable of delivering the best possible care, centred on the needs of the patient.

"This project offers an exciting professional development opportunity to primary care practitioners.”