Milton Keynes’ Talking Therapies Service is urging people to talk about their feelings rather than bottling them during Mental Health Awareness Week (18 to 24 May).

Referral rates to the team have fallen during the pandemic by 60 to 70 per cent, though it continues to offer support remotely via the phone, video call or webinar.

Its concern is that people in Milton Keynes may be storing up problems that will only be exacerbated if they don’t contact the service.

It’s believed that there’s such a strong message for people not to bother the NHS unless it’s an emergency that people are missing out on support that is available to them.

IAPT or Talking Therapy Services don’t rely on GP referral, people can self-refer, so it’s not just about people not being able to access their GP or not wanting to bother their GP.

Clinical lead and consultant clinical psychologist Dr Neil Smith said: “We are concerned that people could be storing up problems that could have a longer term impact on their health if they don’t contact us.

“We want people to not be worried about contacting us if they are struggling.

“We’re not entirely certain why our rates are down – though we know that other IAPT services across the country are seeing the same pattern.

“It could be that many people have taken to heart the message to not bother the NHS unless it’s an emergency.

“It could equally be that they have other pressing concerns at the moment and may not see the mental health services as having a role in helping them with that.

“In fact we have a key role as part of the wider NHS programme to support people during the pandemic as we will have after the pandemic.”

The service can help if you’re feeling down or depressed because of isolation or anxious and worried because of the coronavirus.

It’s offering some enhanced treatments during the outbreak including coronavirus specific webinars and guided self-help. All appointments are taking place either on the phone or by video link.

People who are struggling can refer themselves to the service at

There is also a dedicated support line for frontline health and social care workers in Milton Keynes, which is manned by trained counsellors and therapists between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

If you are a frontline health and social care worker and need to speak to someone then call 01908 724240.

For more general enquiries call the office on 01908 725099.