A new survey has revealed some mental health patients can wait as long as 13 years before receiving specialised help.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists surveyed 500 people with diagnosed mental health issues to find out about the support they receive, and the problems encountered while they wait.
One in 4 of the respondents said they had previously waited more than three months for help, with 6% reporting a wait time of more than a year – with one man stating it took 13 years for him to receive expert help.
This delay in receiving help causes further problems for many people, the Royal College of Psychiatrists says, as 36 percent cited their worsening mental health as a contributing factor to going through a divorce.
Money issues were a problem for 32% of people while 34% reported unemployment and other job-related issues.
One respondent, who had been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), explained: “I was seen quite quickly, but then the follow up didn’t happen for six months and during that time my condition got so much worse.
“I had to leave university and that had a real impact on my life. I lost my friends, I had to go back to my parents and that triggered a downward spiral.”
Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “It’s a scandal. If they were waiting months or years for cancer treatment there would be an outcry, but when it comes to mental illness long waits have been deemed acceptable.
“The failure to give people with mental illnesses — from depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder and PTSD — the prompt help they need is ruining their lives: preventing them from doing their jobs effectively, maintaining key relationships and keeping their heads above water financially.”
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org