I’m sure if you suffer or have suffered with a mental illness, you’ll appreciate how difficult it can be to actually get help. When visiting your GP you’ll probably be given a list of local organisations that offer therapy, that you then have to go around phoning up etc. By the time you’ve managed to get in contact with your chosen organisation, you’ll probably be told you have a minimum 6 week wait to actually see someone.
Now this is the NHS for you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful to have the NHS and receive free healthcare and I know that all of the doctors/nurses work tirelessly to give the best possible care they can. Its really not their fault that the mental health side of things is failing, I guess thats down to the government. There is such a lack of funding for mental health services on the NHS, which really grinds my gears because a 6 week wait to see someone is just too long. If you’re in crisis, you can’t wait. A mental illness can’t be put on hold. Just like any other illness.
To be honest, you shouldn’t even be able to walk out of that GPs office without an answer. Leaving with a leaflet and being told you have to do the rest just isn’t okay. Again, I understand there is a massive strain on the NHS but I 100% believe that mental illness should be taken just as seriously as physical. If you went into that doctors surgery with a concern about a lump for example, theres no way you’d be sent out with a leaflet and told to do a self referral. So why can’t the same actions be taken with a mental illness?
There are so many questions that need to be answered, but the way mental illness is currently treated is appalling. I dread to think how many people are currently sat on a waiting list, far too many thats for sure. Personally, I’ve tried twice to get help on the NHS and so far I’ve not managed to see anyone. The first time, I got a referral to the adult mental health services, where I had an assessment. I went along to this assessment where I was asked a bunch of questions about how I felt, and there was a lot of ‘on a scale from 1-10’ questions too. I was truthful about my feelings and how my anxiety was making me feel but I was told I wasn’t ‘bad’ enough. They said they were unable to treat me because I wasn’t classed as a ‘risk’.
I remember feeling my stomach drop when I heard the man say there was nothing they could do for me. It meant I was back to square one. He handed me some leaflets for other organisations he thought might be useful to me and sent me on my way. I then sat in my car staring at these (useless) leaflets, wondering what I was supposed to do now. From the ages of 16-18 I received CBT at CAMHS but this was the first time I’d tried to get help from the adult mental health services, and it was brutal.
This all happened well over 6 months ago now and I only bothered trying again with the NHS last month. I found an organisation that offered therapy and self referred myself through their website. I had a few phone calls and had to answer some questionnaires so they could get an idea of my problem. I’m now on a waiting list for CBT but I wasn’t given a timeframe for when I might receive help, I’ll just get a phone call when a therapist is available. Great.
In the time between trying to get help from NHS organisations, I actually did go private. I’m lucky enough to be able to use my Dad’s private health insurance, so I attempted to get help through that. However, that didn’t go down well and my experience with that was pretty horrendous as well. But I think that story is for another day, I have too much to say on the topic haha. Overall, I haven’t received the help I need yet and I’ve been suffering with severe anxiety for 4 years now. Thats four years of my life I’m not going to get back.
Getting help shouldn’t have to be this hard and I truly hope that the government will start putting more money into mental health services because lord know, we need it. I’m sure I speak for many people when I say I’m sick of receiving leaflets and having to do the rest myself. Anyway, I’d love to hear your experiences with trying to get help and if you’ve found anything that works for you.