PEOPLE with severe mental health problems in York and Selby are still waiting more than a year for help - but an investment of £290,000 has been made to improve the service.

Some 78 people are currently on a 15-month waiting list for high-intensity psychological therapy for conditions including severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A further 23 people are on a three month waiting list for treatment - for conditions including mild and moderate depression and anxiety - and 132 people are waiting two months for assessment to establish the kind of treatment they need.

However, while waiting times remain long, the backlog of people requiring treatment is improved from a year ago when more than 500 people were waiting for psychological therapies in a situation condemned as an “absolutely shocking situation” by a mental health expert.

A new investment of £290,000 from the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group will fund eight new therapy 'practitioners' currently being appointed to address the waiting list.

Jill Copeland, chief operating officer and deputy chief executive for Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which runs mental health provision in York and Selby, said: “Staff at Leeds and York Partnership Foundation Trust have worked extremely hard to improve access to our Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services in York over the past year.

"We are delighted with the recent decision by the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group to commit additional funding for IAPT services in York and North Yorkshire.

"We are in the process of recruiting eight new practitioners with the aim of doubling the number of service users who are able to access the service by the end of the year.”

Last September David Smith, then chief executive of the charity York Mind, described the volume of people waiting months for help with mental health problems as “an absolutely shocking situation for us to be in in the 21st century" and York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said he was looking into the matter on behalf of his constituent.

Rachel Potts, the CCG’s chief operating officer, said: “Recent conversations with the local community have highlighted that quality mental health services are a priority in the Vale of York.

“In line with the priorities of our stakeholders and the CCG’s commitment to improve the quality of care for people with mental health conditions in the Vale of York, we are delighted to confirm that the CCG has increased funding for IAPT services.”