The London Development Centre's improving access to psychological therapies network was set up to ensure there was an effective communication strategy to promote knowledge and information across London's health and social care communities.

The network, which currently has a circulation list of more than 150 people, is a vehicle for ensuring everyone with an interest in psychological therapies can hear the latest developments.

'We wanted to create a bi-monthly forum open to all, to dispel the notion that developments in psychological therapies should be left to policy-makers alone and to encourage as wide a range of opinion as possible,' says London improving access to psychological therapies programme manager Louise Howell.

'For the London Development Centre, that means ensuring people who use services, employment agencies and organisations concerned with well-being in general are encouraged to participate in the development of this programme.'

Fit for purpose

Most importantly, the network provides the centre with an opportunity to listen to the views of all interested parties. As we move into a critical phase of the programme, the roll-out of psychological therapy services over the next three years, the centre is mindful that services need to be evidence based, clinically effective and suited to the needs ofLondon'sdiverse populations.

There are many examples of positive practice in place across London - the aim of consultation and participation is to capture those examples so they are not disregarded or replaced in the introduction of new models of service delivery.

The network also draws on existing improving access to psychological therapies projects in London and gives people the opportunity to hear about these in more detail. For example, Camden's pharmacies are at the helm of a new initiative to give people more information about how to deal with feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. Supported by the London Development Centre, Camden primary care trust and the council's libraries, eight Camden pharmacies have already signed up to the initiative.

'The stark reality is that at least one in four people experience some form of depression, anxiety or stress throughout their life,' says Brendan McLoughlin, director of well-being at the London Development Centre. 'Early recognition of these health problems is vital. Recognising there is a problem is the first step to finding a solution. People are often able to help themselves but easy access to the right information quickly is often the problem.'

The work of the improving access team also includes partnerships with the London Development Centre's health and social care criminal justice team, piloting self-help materials in prisons, GP mental health awareness training, and the implementation of outcome measures in voluntary sector counselling services.

The network gives people the opportunity to hear about the latest policy development news from the national choice and access team and regular updates from the Ealing pathfinder site. Most importantly, it gives people a chance to network with each other.