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Talking Therapies (IAPT)

Checked: 27-03-2024 by 3 Vicky Ryan Next Review: 26-03-2026


NHS Talking Therapies provide support for anyone who is struggling with low mood, anxiety, or depression, using short term CBT based therapeutic techniques. The service is provided by Vita Health Group across BNSSG and was previously known as VitaMinds.

**Update on waiting times (March 2024)**

Waiting times for our assessment (an initial phone conversation / triage with a trained mental health professional) are currently around 10 days. We are encouraging early referrals for anyone who is starting to struggle with their mental health, or who have other things going on in their lives that could cause anxiety / low mood. 

There are now a couple of services on the waiting times data which weren’t included before, Employment support which is new and has short waits, and also Couples Therapy which is not new but also has very short waits.

Please see the attached waiting times (Mar 2024). These will be updated quarterly.

NHS Talking Therapies service opening times are:

  • Monday-Wednesday 8am-8pm
  • Thursday and Friday 8am-5pm
  • Closed on Saturdays for the foreseeable future

Who to refer

The service provides help for people:

  • age 16 years and over;
  • are registered at a GP practice in the Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire area
  • are experiencing common mental health problems (anxiety and depression)
  • that are struggling with employment related to mental health needs, or where employment / unemployment is causing mental health difficulties.

Referrals appropriate to service include:

  • Low Mood and Depression
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Health Anxiety Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Specific Phobias
  • Agoraphobia
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Long Term Health Conditions and Medically Unexplained Symptoms in the context of depression and anxiety (e.g. Diabetes, COPD, Chronic pain, CHD, CFS, IBS, Fibromyalgia, Stroke, Long Covid)


  • Please see Red Flag section below.

Waiting Times

Please see the overview section above for latest on waiting times.

Immediate support

For one off, immediate emotional and practical support please see 24/7 Mental Health Support

How can NHS Talking Therapies support mental health

Self- Referral

Please direct patients to the NHS BNSSG Talking Therapies website for advice on services available and details on how to self-refer. These services are available to all patients registered with a GP Practice across BNSSG.

Other Resources

In addition the following resources are available via the website and individuals do not need to be referred or be a current user of NHS services.

Silvercloud - is a computer CBT programme with self guided modules for people to explore and complete. Modules include Space from Covid, Space from stress, Space for sleep, Space for resilience.

Self-help resources – self -help guides are available for conditions such as low mood, anxiety, OCD, phobia, agoraphobia, panic.

Living well with long term health conditions - including diabetes, lung conditions and other long term health conditions

COVID specific resources  - support of mental health related to COVID-19.

Collaborations - NHS Talking Therapies also work in partnership across BNSSG with The City Farms in Bristol. Alternative pathways include:

  • Healthy Lives Healthy Minds - Physical Activity Improving Mental Health
  • Wellbeing Navigation - Support with the social impacts on Mental Health
  • Employment Support Service
  • City Farms - to provide holistic support for those looking to do something active and be outdoors

Exclusions / RED Flags

NHS Talking Therapies are not appropriate for:

  • Patients who pose a high risk to themselves or others, at crisis due to psychosis, those with pre-existing diagnoses of acute mental illnesses and dementia crisis.

For the avoidance of doubt, high risk refers to patient’s acutely unwell requiring secondary Mental Health Services for whom it is expected the service should refer onwards and not send back to primary care.

  • People who at the time of assessment, for whatever reason (e.g. acute illness, childbirth, compulsory admission), are unable to engage with NHS Talking therapies. They will be referred to a more appropriate care pathway, although this will not preclude their return to NHS Talking Therapies at a later date.
  • People who are assessed to have mental health needs that would be more appropriately supported at the secondary mental health level. They will be referred to their local secondary mental health care pathway. This will not preclude their return to the service at a later date.
  • People asking for treatment/support for mental health conditions outside those that NHS Talking Therapies is able to treat, such as:
    • Schizophrenia
    • Personality disorder
    • Obvious signs of psychosis
    • Organic disorders of the brain
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Substance misuse
    • Eating disorders - NHS Talking Therapies do not offer specific treatment for patients with eating disorders (however mild they may be). Please see the Eating Disorders page for further advice on local services.
  • Exclusion to service will also be on the ground of abuse or violent/aggressive behaviour on the part of the referred or self-referring patient. In these cases, it is the responsibility of the service to convene a multi-profession meeting, involving the patients GP, to agree next steps. These individuals will require specialist or secondary care.


Referral for an NHS Talking Therapies Holistic Assessment

The NHS Talking Therapies service accepts self -referrals from individuals by phone on 0333 200 1893 or online through the link here.

  • 8am – 8pm Monday to Wednesday
  • 8am – 5pm Thursday & Friday

Please let patients know that the wait will be much less for group sessions and ask them to seriously consider that.

GPs and other healthcare professionals wishing to make a referral on behalf of a patient can:


NHS Talking Therapies have an Information leaflet and wallet card available via these links.

Hardcopies can be ordered by emailing NHS Talking Therapies BNSSG Partnership Liaison team:

Self Help Guides produced by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust  Titles cover a range of mental health issues.

Non-NHS Organisations

For support groups and chat forums please see the links via NHS Talking Therapies website

Efforts are made to ensure the accuracy and agreement of these guidelines, including any content uploaded, referred to or linked to from the system. However, BNSSG ICB cannot guarantee this. This guidance does not override the individual responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or guardian or carer, in accordance with the mental capacity act, and informed by the summary of product characteristics of any drugs they are considering. Practitioners are required to perform their duties in accordance with the law and their regulators and nothing in this guidance should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Information provided through Remedy is continually updated so please be aware any printed copies may quickly become out of date.