The economic benefits of LENS treatment for people with anxiety

Think tank: Pro Bono Economics

Author(s): Helen Hughson

January 30, 2024

This report from UK think tank Pro Bono Economics shows the economic benefits of LENS treatment for people with anxiety.

Anxiety disorders affect large parts of the population and their impact can be debilitating. Most people experience some symptoms of anxiety in response to stress or danger; however, anxiety becomes a problem when it is regular or excessive, and difficult to control.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the most common anxiety conditions. It is characterised by persistent, excessive worry about many different things (rather than anxiety about specific situations). In 2014, over 5% of people in England reported symptoms of GAD serious enough to warrant clinical recognition; two-thirds of those experienced severe symptoms. Following the Covid pandemic, people throughout the UK have reported experiencing worse anxiety than in previous years.

Current NHS treatments for GAD usually involve some form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), ranging from guided self-help courses to sessions with a therapist. Many of these treatments require interaction with or supervision by a trained therapist, which limits availability and may also discourage some sufferers from seeking treatment.

A recent study funded by MQ Mental Health Research (MQ) showed that a new treatment, titled Learning Effective New Strategies (LENS), which can be administered remotely, could be effective in helping people who experience GAD to recover. The LENS treatment, which consists of a training programme designed to embed effective strategies for reducing anxiety, was delivered entirely online and has since been developed into an app.

MQ asked Pro Bono Economics (PBE) to estimate what the potential benefits of this treatment might be, if it were made available to anxiety sufferers in the general population. Using statistics on mental illness and standard valuation techniques, PBE translated the study outcomes to numbers which reflect the scale of the benefits the treatment might achieve.