Yesterday, I attended an information session about step 4 Psychology. I was initially placed on the waiting list six months ago following an appointment with a psychiatrist in a bid to improve my emotional, social and confidence struggles. I received a letter a couple of weeks ago inviting me to the hour-long session, it didn’t feel like it would be a good use of my time but it was mandatory to progress on the waiting list. I made my way to the hospital in the pouring rain and arrived on time, for a change.
The session was held in a meeting room with around ten patients in attendance and two psychologists delivering the session. It was an in-depth presentation about therapy looking at all aspects of the service and how people should engage with it. It was useful to get an overview of the service, what would be offered and what position you should be in to make the most of the therapy. It felt long-winded and repetitive in many ways, especially as most, if not all had already experienced therapy in a step 3 program like CBT.
The most interesting and to be blunt, awkward, part of the hour-long sessions was when participants were invited to ask questions. I didn’t expect any to be asked, but I was wrong, there were a few. The questions were all related to the time scale, one relative of an attendee asked if anything was available now for those who had been referred urgently for help, the answer was ‘no’ which highlighted a significant problem.
I did a little research into waiting times. For NHS England if you are in need of an urgent referral for an illness like suspected cancer you can expect to wait no longer than two weeks, for a non-urgent treatment you can expect to wait 18 weeks, though this has been longer in recent years. In my experience and hearing other people’s struggles with waiting lists for NHS treatment for Mental Health problems, it is far longer than any physical treatment.
The wait outlined for Step 4 Phycology is 18 months, I faced a 24-month wait for ADHD care, and it’s common for basic talking therapy treatments to be up to or even over 20 weeks. This to me indicates clearly that mental health is not receiving parity of esteem and is under increasing demand and pressure which needs to be met and eased.