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Research identifies a need for expanded therapeutic options for people with mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety disorders treated within the UK National Health Service (NHS). We aimed to examine potential benefits of a Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) based breath intervention delivered in this context.
SKY is a structured programme derived from yoga in which participants are taught relaxation and stress-management techniques including body postures, breathing exercises and cognitive-behavioural procedures. Previous research has demonstrated benefits for patients with clinical and non-clinical depression and anxiety. However, SKY has not yet been evaluated as a therapeutic option for patients accessing NHS primary care mental health services.
We evaluated an existing programme available to NHS patients in South East England. The intervention is community-based and delivered via four weekly ‘stress buster sessions’ (1-h duration), one weekend intensive workshop (2.5 days) and four weekly (90 min) follow-up sessions. Analyses were conducted on existing data [measures of depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) and anxiety (generalised anxiety disorder-7)] collected as part of routine care, at the start of the programme and three follow-up assessments.
Baseline data were available for 991 participants, of which 557 (56.2%) attended at least three weekly workshops, 216 (21.8%) attended the weekend workshop and 169 (17.1%) completed the programme. Statistically significant (P<0.05) improvements in depression and anxiety were observed in all three outcome assessments. Clinically meaningful change was observed for 74.6% of participants completing the programme. Findings indicate that SKY has the potential to benefit patient outcomes and could be offered more widely as a therapeutic option. We recommend further research to explore patients’ experiences of the programme, determine the number of sessions necessary for improvement/ recovery, define the population most likely to respond and examine potential cost savings (e.g., reductions in antidepressant prescribing/referrals to secondary care).
To explore, for the first time, whether a modified mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) course has the potential to reduce stress and burnout among National Health Service (NHS) General Practitioners.
There is a crisis of low morale among NHS GPs, with most describing their workload as ‘unmanageable’. MBCT has been demonstrated to improve stress and burnout in other populations, but has not yet been evaluated in a cohort of NHS GPs.
NHS GPs in South East England (n=22) attended a modified version of the MBCT course approved by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for prevention of depressive relapse. This comprised eight weekly 2-h sessions with homework (mindfulness practice) between sessions. Participants completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) before (baseline) and then again one month (T2) and three months (T3) after attending the course. We also obtained qualitative data on participants’ experiences of the course.
Compliance with the intervention was very high. All GPs attended at least six sessions and all completed baseline questionnaires. At T2, data were obtained from 21 participants (95%); PSS scores were significantly lower than at baseline (P<0.001), as were MBI emotional exhaustion (P<0.001) and depersonalization scores (P=0.0421). At T3 we obtained data for 13 participants (59%); PSS scores and MBI emotional exhaustion scores were significantly lower (P<0.001; P=0.0024, respectively) and personal accomplishment scores were significantly higher (P<0.001) than at baseline. Participants reported that the course helped them to manage work pressures, feel more relaxed, enjoy their work and experience greater empathy and compassion (for self, colleagues and patients). Findings of this preliminary evaluation are promising. Further research is needed to evaluate this approach within a larger randomized-controlled trial.
We aimed to evaluate a pilot service to facilitate discharge of patients with stable long-term mental health needs from secondary to primary care.
Patients with stable long-term mental health conditions are often not discharged from secondary mental health services when no longer needed due to insufficient systems and processes to enable safe, effective, recovery-focussed treatment and support. The Primary Care Mental Health Specialist (PCMHS) Service was developed to address this gap; new PCMHS posts were introduced to act as a conduit for patients being discharged from secondary care and a single point of referral back into secondary care, should it be required. The two-year pilot, across six Clinical Commissioning Groups in South East England, began in March 2013.
Interviews were conducted with all PCMHS employed in the pilot service (n=13) and a sample of service users (n=12). The views of professionals working alongside the service, including GPs, Psychiatrists and Mental Health Nurses, were captured using a brief online questionnaire (n=50). Time and Activity Recording Sheets were used to capture data required for economic analysis.
Our findings indicate that the service is working well from the perspective of patients; staff employed within the service and professionals working alongside the service. Patients described the service as a ‘safety net’ they could fall back on in case of difficulties, whereas staff used the analogy of a ‘bridge’ to describe the way the service improved communication and collaboration between the various professionals and organisations involved in the patient’s care. Improvements in well-being were seen to result from increased support for those transitioning from secondary to primary care, a more pro-active approach to relapse prevention and increased engagement in daily activities. Each PCMHS covered 36 patients in a one-month period, with a unit cost of £73.01 per patient.
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