THE Minister for Care and Support hailed a unique mental health scheme in Oxfordshire an “inspirational” success.

Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb spoke on a visit to TalkingSpace – a collaboration between mental health trust Oxford Health and mental health charity Mind.

The service offers cognitive behavioural therapy to people with mental health problems but also, uniquely, to people with physical conditions where it is thought therapy could improve their rate of recovery.

Speaking during Friday’s visit to the centre in Osney Mead, Oxford, Mr Lamb said: “What this has proved is that if you give mental health treatment to people with other physical conditions like heart problems you can improve their health and wellbeing, which in the long term saves money and improves patient outcomes.

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“We are now reaching people who until a few years ago weren’t getting any treatment at all.

“What is so incredible is that they are showing really good recovery rates, and those that don’t fully recover are showing significant improvements, so this is really exciting.”

Set up in 2009, the service now sees about 7,500 people from Oxfordshire each year. Last year it was praised by influential health service think tank The King’s Fund as an effective programme with “positive outcomes” in a report on NHS work with charities.

Mr Lamb added: “It is a really inspirational collaboration between Oxford Heath and Mind, working together providing help and support to an enormous number of people across Oxfordshire who have anxiety or depression.

“My real priority for mental health is that we give it the status as physical health.

“At the moment if you have suspected cancer you have an entitlement to see a specialist within two weeks, if you have a first episode of a psychosis perhaps as a youngster you have no such right.

“That’s an institutional bias against mental health and that can’t be allowed to continue.”

Mr Lamb was invited on the visit by the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon Layla Moran.

To find out more about the scheme, call TalkingSpace on 01865 901222

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