New national specialist mental health centre to be launched

A unique new specialist centre for anxiety and related problems is to be launched through a partnership between the University of Bath and Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Trust (AWP).

The Centre for Specialist Psychological Treatments of Anxiety and Related Problems will focus on the assessment, treatment, training and research for psychological problems such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD); phobias; panic and agoraphobia; obsessional hoarding and other anxiety related problems.

In addition, it will offer help with health anxiety and psychological problems occurring in those suffering from physical illnesses as well as treatment for some severe mental health problems, including psychotic problems and bipolar disorder.

Based in South Bristol the Centre aims to meet a gap in highly specialist evidence-based treatment for a range of psychological problems, in particular focussing on those service users with the most complex needs. This service, which complements existing NHS services, hopes to reduce the need for service users to travel long distances to national centres which have been located in London until now.

It will provide, on both a regional and national basis, expert and individualised highly specialist services and also offer training, consultation, supervision and research services to health provider organisations. For many problems it will offer intensive treatments over a period of a few days to two weeks, allowing particularly rapid resolution of such problems.

Professor Paul Salkovskis, who is Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science at the University of Bath, will be the Clinical Director of the Centre and will work closely with AWP Psychological Treatment Services.

Professor Salkovskis was previously Clinical Director in the Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma at the Maudsley Hospital and Professor of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science at the Institute of Psychiatry. He was also Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Oxford where he was involved in developing and researching many of the treatments being offered by the clinic.

He said: "It is very exciting that the University and AWP have forged such strong links for the benefit of people with this type of mental health problem, which carries with it a huge burden of disability.

"Although effective treatment has been possible for some time, it has not been available at the level of expertise required by the most seriously affected. These are unnecessary illnesses which the clinic will be able to deal with, improving quality of life for sufferers."

One the features of the Centre will be to provide carefully individualised state-of-the-art evidence-based treatments, as well as its ability to offer also bespoke programmes for those who have not benefited from more usual approaches, requiring more complex or intensive treatment or both.

Kylie Cloke from the Swindon branch of the national charity OCD UK welcomed the new Centre. She said: "We are absolutely delighted to learn that the University of Bath and Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust have recognised the importance and need for a specialist treatment services for anxiety problems including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder."

A formal launch event will take place early in 2013.

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