UK Healthcare Pavilion: The Priory Group

Q&A - 1ST MARCH 2021

In the first of a regular series of Q&As with participants in the UK Healthcare Pavilion, a showcase for the UK’s world-class life sciences and healthcare sector, leading mental healthcare experts the Priory Group answer our questions

The UK Healthcare Pavilion has launched, showcasing the UK’s world-class life sciences and healthcare sector. The Howard de Walden Estate is thrilled to partner with this unique, new platform, which features some of our renowned hospitals, consultant clinics and specialists here within the world-famous Harley Street Medical Area (HSMA). Over the next few weeks, we’ll be spotlighting some of these organisations as part of our new Q&A series.

First up, leading mental health experts the Priory Group answer our questions about the pioneering Priory Wellbeing Centre on Harley Street and the importance of mental health support during the pandemic.

What does the Priory Group specialise in?
The Priory Group was founded over 40 years ago to support mental health care in the UK. Our centres offer the best available option for high quality mental health treatment and we aim to make a long-lasting difference to everyone we support. Every year our private services support over 10,000 people, and our proven track record in helping them to get their lives back on track is unrivalled. We offer market-leading mental health, addiction and eating disorder support, along with services for young people. Our national network of private outpatient therapy centres provides quick and easy access to expert treatment, with flexible consulting hours to fit around our patients’ needs. We also offer access to residential and day-care treatment provided by our nationwide hospital network.

Can you tell us a bit about the facilities on Harley Street?
Our Wellbeing Centre on Harley Street opened in 2017 to offer expertise and our extensive experience to clients seeking urgent help and forward-thinking treatment for their mental health, in the heart of the HSMA. Our hope was to extend Priory's role in offering early diagnosis and prompt intervention and play a proactive part in supporting all clients towards achieving a better quality of life and long-term recovery.

The centre is staffed by therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and other healthcare professionals, who provide fast access to expert mental health support for a range of conditions, including depression, anxiety and stress. Our clients are offered consultant assessments and follow up appointments, along with access to a wide range of highly qualified therapists for one-to-one therapy treatment. The centre also specialises in a cutting-edge depression treatment: repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). This is a NICE-approved therapy that involves stimulating the brain with an electromagnetic current, to positively induce changes in a patient’s mood.

What would you say are the benefits of being located within the HSMA?
The Priory has a network of Wellbeing Centres which have proven incredibly popular across the UK and it felt timely and appropriate that we should bring our expertise to a second central London location, synonymous with high quality and specialist healthcare. Its central location and flexible hours enable clients from across London to gain access to support at their convenience, and the close proximity to Priory’s London-based hospital network enables continuity of care for those needing more intensive support.

Do you think that the understanding of mental health has improved in recent years and are we better equipped as a society to deal with it?
There’s certainly been increased willingness to recognise mental health as a crucial part of our wellbeing. Today we know that one in four people will have a mental health condition during their lifetime, and there is a growing recognition that people need to access care as quickly as possible. Various campaigns continue to highlight the need to be more open about mental health and this is doubtlessly having a positive impact. As children are being more widely taught about the importance of mental health this will have a long-term benefit on the way society perceives it, which can only be a good thing.

In what ways do you feel the pandemic has impacted this?
The pandemic has had a significant impact on mental wellbeing. For those who didn’t have mental health challenges, it has led to anxiety and other concerns, and it has often exacerbated the conditions of those already living with mental health concerns. The isolation experienced by people as a result of restrictions has had a negative impact, and it is likely that support will be required over a sustained period of time, including for healthcare professionals who have often been dealing with very traumatic situations. We’ve additionally seen a 20-30% increase in people abusing substances during the pandemic who may also be in need of professional support.

The pandemic has seen an increase in people’s willingness to access mental health support online, which is likely to continue in some form going forward. Priory Connect enables clients to see a therapist from the comfort of their own home, at a time of their convenience, and has been really well received by clients.

Why is the Priory considered a leading expert when it comes to mental health?
The Priory works with some of the UK’s leading mental health and addiction specialists and all of our services are regulated by the CQC. We are able to provide specialist support across a wide range of conditions, and the breadth of our support network provides a full care pathway, from intensive residential support including medically managed detoxification programmes, through to one-to-one therapy sessions.