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More than half of patients who finished psychological therapy recovered in 2017-18

​​​​​​​A total of 50.8% of courses of treatment for anxiety and depression ended in a patient’s recovery in 2017-18, new statistics from NHS Digital reveal.

A total of 50.8% of courses of treatment for anxiety and depression ended in a patient’s recovery in 2017-18, new statistics from NHS Digital reveal.

This is the first financial year when the recovery rate passed 50%.

There were 1,440,000 referrals to talking therapies in 2017-18. Of these, 1,010,000 referrals began a course of treatment, with 555,000 finishing treatment, according to figures published in the Psychological Therapies: Annual Report on the use of IAPT services, England, 2017-18.

Overall, 89.1% of people were seen within six weeks for their first course of treatment, up from 87.5% in 2016-17. This is the highest proportion in a financial year.

In total, 50.8% of people who completed a course of treatment recovered in 2017-18, up from 49.3% in 2016-17 and 46.3% in 2015-162.  A total of 66.4% of patients showed reliable improvement after undergoing psychological therapy.

The figures also show that people completing a course of treatment received on average 6.8 sessions. Those referrals that moved to recovery attended 7.5 sessions on average.

The percentage of people seen within 18 weeks also increased from 98.2% in 2016-17 to 98.8% in 2017-18.

People seek treatment through IAPT services for depression and a range of anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders, panic disorders and social phobias. The treatments can include therapies such as counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and peer support.

Also out today is the Safeguarding Adults, England, 2017-18 report, which shows information about adults at risk for whom safeguarding concerns1 were raised and the enquiries that took place.  Amongst this year’s key findings, the report shows that one in every 43 adults aged 85 and above was the subject of a Section 42 safeguarding enquiry2 compared to one in every 862 adults aged between 18 and 64. 

Guardianship under the Mental Health Act 1983, England, 2016-17 and 2017-18 is also released today, which contains information on the use of Guardianship legal powers and the numbers of new, closed and continuing cases at national and regional levels.


Read the full report

Psychological Therapies: Annual Report on the use of IAPT services, England, 2017-18

Notes to editors

  1. The IAPT dataset became a nationally mandated data set in April 2012; earlier comparable data are not available.
  2. In IAPT outcome measures, such as recovery, are calculated for referrals that finish a course of treatment within the reporting period having started as clinical cases of anxiety or depression. The term "recovery" has a specific meaning in the context of IAPT services. A referral has moved to recovery if they were defined as a clinical case at the start of their treatment and not as a clinical case at the end of treatment. For further information see the ‘Guide to IAPT data and publications’ at
  3. Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) is an NHS programme in England that offers interventions approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for treating people with depression and anxiety.
  4. Numbers are rounded to the nearest 1,000. Percentages have been calculated using unrounded figures.
  5. All historical IAPT publications can be found at


Safeguarding and Guardianship footnotes

  1. A safeguarding concern is where a local authority is notified about a risk of abuse, which instigates an enquiry under the local safeguarding procedures.
  2. Safeguarding adults is now a statutory duty. Under Section 42 of the Care Act 2014, where a local authority has reasonable cause to suspect that an adult in its area (whether or not ordinarily resident there):
    1. has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs); and,
    2. is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect; and,
    3. as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it, then the local authority must make (or cause to be made) whatever enquiries it thinks necessary to enable it to decide whether any action should be taken in the adult’s case and, if so, what and by whom.  These enquiries are called Section 42 enquiries.

About NHS Digital

NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner of the health and care system.  Our team of information analysts, technology and project management experts create, deliver and manage the crucial digital systems, services, products and standards upon which health and care professionals depend.  During the 2017/18 financial year, NHS Digital published 275 statistical reports. Our vision is to harness the power of information and technology to make health and care better.

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Last edited: 9 October 2019 4:57 pm