HUNDREDS of therapy sessions for depression and anxiety have been carried out online by mental health patients on the Isle of Wight.

NHS Digital figures show that NHS Isle of Wight CCG held 265 video appointments and 25 online therapy sessions in December.

With the online therapy approach, known as internet enabled therapy, much of the learning required to help people deal with emotional difficulties can be achieved by them working through materials on the internet with ongoing contact with a therapist.

This could be by telephone or secure messaging, to provide encouragement, clarify misunderstandings and enhance learning.

Mental health charity Mind said online therapy is beneficial to some people, however it should not become a substitute for face-to-face support.

While phone appointments were the single most popular medium used to hold talking therapies with 920 appointments during the period, patients were also able to access support via email or messaging services 25 times.

There were also 50 face-to-face appointments recorded in December.

Leila Reyburn, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said: “For some people, accessing therapy digitally is preferable, because they don’t have to travel to appointments or prefer to access support from the comfort of their own home rather than a clinical setting, for example.

“But for others, remote appointments can themselves be a source of anxiety, especially if we’re not used to talking to people over video or phone.

“We might also be worried about sharing personal and confidential information relating to our mental health, particularly if we live in a small space with other people and are worried about being overheard.

“We’ve also heard from many people who say that they find it more difficult to build up a trusting relationship with a therapist over phone or online than face-to-face.”

She added that it was important people were given a choice in how to access services.

During the pandemic, Mind secured a commitment from the Government that mental health services continued to deliver face-to-face support, especially for those with severe mental illness.

A spokesman for the NHS said: “The NHS has been open to people with concerns about their mental health throughout the pandemic, including through talking therapy sessions which the public can self-refer onto for both face-to-face and online sessions.

“Referrals have been rapidly increasing recently and anyone who needs help should come forward for NHS support.”