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  • Writer's pictureLeila Hobart

Staggering mental health waiting times

Research released by the Royal College of Psychiatrists for World Mental Health Day, shows that nearly a quarter of mental health patients (23%) wait more than 12 weeks to start treatment, due to lack of consultant psychiatrists.

A poll of 535 British adults diagnosed with a mental illness including eating disorders, addiction, bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression reveals the damaging consequences of hidden waiting lists on the lives of patients.

This damming report shows that more than three quarters (78%) of those in a hidden waiting list reported that they were forced to resort to emergency services or a crisis line in the absence of mental health support – including 12% going to A&E, 7% ringing 999, 16% contacting 111 and 27% turning to a crisis line.

In some cases waits were shown to be longer than six months for 12%, while 6% of patients wait for more than a year.

The report outlines that patients whose mental health deteriorated say that it has led to financial problems such as debt, struggles with work resulting in job loss, as well as relationship difficulties, including divorce and family breakdown.

Long waits for NHS mental health treatment are largely down to an insufficient mental health workforce, particularly when it comes to psychiatrists. There is currently just one consultant psychiatrist per 12,567 people in England.

At InspireUK - The Charity we are working tireless to break this cycle of individuals having to wait longer than 6 months for a referral to support their mental health. We aim to ensure that anyone who turns to us for support can access therapeutic services by removing financial barriers and waiting times.

For more information, please contact:

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