Good things come to those who wait – a saying that nearly everyone has heard from a parent or guardian, along with other sayings on patience like “Patience is a virtue”. In many cases, these phrases that encourage us to stand through the storm to reap the benefits at the end can help us, and often the prophesied rewards are indeed there. It has become so ingrained into our culture and society, especially British society. We Brits wait for everything! So much so, that we have unwritten rules about queue etiquette. Think about the last time you waited for something, and then think about the promised outcome at the end; perhaps it was waiting for a rollercoaster, or a film or a parcel.
Yet, there are some waiting lists that cause more harm than good. Today, I want to discuss why our mental health waiting list is appalling, and hopefully highlight the need for it to change.
Firstly, I want to commend the Let’s Talk system in the UK for its work. Their staff work tirelessly to help people recover from their mental illnesses, and the criticisms I will raise in this post is by no way a reflection of their values. It is well known that the relationship between good mental health rates and recovery, fall upon the governments who fund schemes like Let’s Talk.
My first experience with the abhorrent waiting list for my treatment, was in November 2018 (at this point I would recommend reading my post: New Year, Old Me for some backstory). I was referred to the Let’s Talk Liverpool system by my GP (still miss you Deb), and soon enough I received a letter with a questionnaire to fill out and a telephone appointment date. Now, I know I said I wouldn’t point my dagger at Let’s Talk, but I think we can all agree that via the telephone, it is pretty hard to tell how someone is doing mentally (we can all play the actress over the phone). Anyway, I filled in my questionnaire and after the appointment, I was told that my anxiety and depression levels (according to their system) was low enough that they would recommend online therapy. This was all well and good, but the waiting list for online therapy was 10 weeks (10 bloody weeks for ONLINE therapy). I am fully aware of the lack of mental health funding, but surely it is a huge cause for concern when one must was 10 weeks for ONLINE therapy.
In the meantime, I went to see my university’s wellbeing centre, and got an appointment with one of their counsellors. Yet again, I was put on a waiting list for counselling (of which, students were only allocated 4 hours) due to a lack of resources and staff. Fortunately, I did not have to wait much more than a month before I was assigned a counsellor, and I can honestly say that it was worth it. It was relieving to just talk to someone, get to the roots of my problems and have them try to explain why that would have affected me – for the first time since my diagnosis, I felt validated and heard.
Eventually, I ran out of my allotted session times and was still left waiting for online therapy. 10 weeks came and went, and still I heard nothing. It wasn’t until March 2019 (28 weeks later), that I finally received a letter telling me I was now able to access online CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I absolutely HATED online therapy. It simply did not work for me, and I soon stopped using it which led me down into despair; I had waited so long for a therapy that didn’t work.
Jumping forward to the present, I have recently moved home and so I contacted Let’s Talk Leicester about my need of therapy. My symptoms and illnesses are worse, and I now qualify for one-to-one therapy. And so, the villainous waiting list revisits me, and will continue whilst I struggle. There will be a reward, a positive outcome, that much I believe, but for now I must wait and suffer – like so many of us are.
Featured Photo Credit 📷: Andrik Langfield