Patients with severe mental health problems waiting more than a year for counselling

David Smith, chief executive of York Mind

David Smith, chief executive of York Mind

Published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by

HUNDREDS of people with severe mental health problems are waiting more than a year for counselling, in an “absolutely shocking situation” which an expert warns is likely to cost lives.

There are huge backlogs for people waiting for NHS counselling in York and Selby, with 323 people who are in need of high-intensity counselling for conditions including severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder being put on a 14-month waiting list, The Press has learned.

A further 207 people suffering from conditions including mild and moderate depression and anxiety are on a four-month waiting list for low-intensity counselling.

It is a further worrying revelation over mental health provision in York after two counselling services – York Mind and York Women’s Counselling – said earlier this year they had to close their waiting lists due to demand.

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has acknowledged the problem but says it would need an extra 27 members of staff to clear the waiting list.

David Smith, chief executive of the charity York Mind, said: “It’s an absolutely shocking situation for us to be in in the 21st century.

“It's a scandal, it’s not just a local scandal but a national one. These people are critically unwell. People will die while they are on that list.

“Imagine breaking your leg and being told you have a very serious problem which could get worse but you have to wait over a year for help.

“While they are on that list they are becoming more and more poorly. They are becoming withdrawn, lonely, isolated, frightened and scared.

“Suicide is a very real possibility and it may well have happened but we don't know. We have suicides in York but we don't know how many are on waiting lists for talking therapies.

“People have expressed anger, disbelief and despair. People don’t know where to go to. For someone who is very unwell and in crisis, they can't comprehend it.”

Mr Smith said the success of talking therapies was widely accepted and resources may need to be allocated away from more “traditional” methods.

The waiting time figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act in June and given to The Press by a patient awaiting treatment for depression.

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said he was looking into the matter on behalf of his constituent.

York and Selby Partnership NHS trust said: “The trust has experienced a steady increase in referrals and waiting times have become longer than we would wish. In February 2012, we undertook a review of the IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) service in response to the rising demand and increase in waiting times.

“Our review highlighted that current funding levels give a shortfall of over 27.5 trained IAPT workers in York and Selby compared to national requirements. Our commissioners are fully aware of this shortfall and we are working closely with them to explore ways of using our limited resource to best effect.”

It said it was looking at “streamlining” the referral process and group work as well as providing computerised cognitive behavioral therapy and telephone interventions as alternatives to face-to-face sessions.

Mr Smith said York Mind had recently agreed to double its capacity for counselling. While its waiting lists remain closed, more sessions are expected to become available.

York Mind can offer advice and support for people seeking treatment on 01904 643364.

Anyone experiencing feelings of depression and contemplating suicide can phone York Samaritans on 01904 655888.

There is currently a 17-week wait for “step two” of the IAPT services in which a “psychological wellbeing practitioner” provides low-intensity interventions for people with conditions including mild to moderate depression, anxiety and panic disorders and OCD.

There is a 14-month wait for “step three”, which is delivered by high-intensity cognitive-behavioural therapists for people with conditions including severe depression, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Case Study

FOR one patient waiting on a lengthy list for long-term depression, life has been left in limbo Michael, a 39-year-old administrator, said: “When you are put on the waiting list for IAPT step three it is recognised that you do need further support, so to then find that you are likely to have to wait over a year is quite surprising.

“Once you are on the waiting list you are left in limbo with little support if you are going through a particularly bad period of depression. Like many people, I am not in a position to be able to afford private therapy sessions, so have to rely on the NHS for my mental health in times of need.

“It is not just myself I am concerned about. Many people with depression have difficulty holding down a job and can even be a risk to themselves.

“It feels like mental health is not treated on a par with physical health. If NHS users were regularly having to wait over a year for an operation it would be taken seriously. It appears at the moment that it is acceptable for patients using mental health services to be put on long waiting lists, because few people will complain.”

• Name changed to protect anonymity.

Comments (18)

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12:32pm Mon 23 Sep 13

Fat Harry says...

Scandalous.

Not a viable answer for everyone, I know, but some larger employers provide access to this sort of help via organisations such as Care First. If you're diagnosed as suffering from any such disorder, from stress to severe depression, they might be able to help.
Scandalous. Not a viable answer for everyone, I know, but some larger employers provide access to this sort of help via organisations such as Care First. If you're diagnosed as suffering from any such disorder, from stress to severe depression, they might be able to help. Fat Harry
  • Score: 4

12:33pm Mon 23 Sep 13

heworth.28 says...

Unfortunately these services are often first on the list for budget cutbacks, woe betide anyone who doesn't want to go the route of being given antidepressants
Unfortunately these services are often first on the list for budget cutbacks, woe betide anyone who doesn't want to go the route of being given antidepressants heworth.28
  • Score: 9

1:44pm Mon 23 Sep 13

chickpea says...

I've found it impossible to get help from the crisis team or community mental health team in York at times when I've been in considerable distress. I was even sent home from a&e after a mental health worker stated that he thought I was suicidal but didn't think I would manage to end my life successfully and was therefore not offering any help or support. Three days later I overdosed, but no doubt just proved them right as I survived it. I went through 4 months of horrible intrusive thoughts and feelings of despair and was made to feel like an attention seeking fake, when all I really wanted was a kind word and some understanding that my distress was genuine. I did what I had been told to do and sought help at the start of the crisis, but that just means that you are viewed to have good insight and be capable of getting over it on your own. I don't think I will ever seek help again.
I've found it impossible to get help from the crisis team or community mental health team in York at times when I've been in considerable distress. I was even sent home from a&e after a mental health worker stated that he thought I was suicidal but didn't think I would manage to end my life successfully and was therefore not offering any help or support. Three days later I overdosed, but no doubt just proved them right as I survived it. I went through 4 months of horrible intrusive thoughts and feelings of despair and was made to feel like an attention seeking fake, when all I really wanted was a kind word and some understanding that my distress was genuine. I did what I had been told to do and sought help at the start of the crisis, but that just means that you are viewed to have good insight and be capable of getting over it on your own. I don't think I will ever seek help again. chickpea
  • Score: 14

3:27pm Mon 23 Sep 13

violetthebear says...

too true.....shame Mr "chief exec" Chris Butler doesnt agree withe these FACTS...according to him , there's a general opinion that MH sufferers here in york are "happy" with both the "service & treatment/support they can access & recieve...especially since the famous merge with Leeds Partnership services.
& I quote.....& the YEP published the said article..."one of the top performing Trusts"......!!
too true.....shame Mr "chief exec" Chris Butler doesnt agree withe these FACTS...according to him , there's a general opinion that MH sufferers here in york are "happy" with both the "service & treatment/support they can access & recieve...especially since the famous merge with Leeds Partnership services. & I quote.....& the YEP published the said article..."one of the top performing Trusts"......!! violetthebear
  • Score: 6

3:59pm Mon 23 Sep 13

BL2 says...

It's not just here - it's in plenty of other towns / cities and it's been like that for years! :-/.
It's not just here - it's in plenty of other towns / cities and it's been like that for years! :-/. BL2
  • Score: 7

5:17pm Mon 23 Sep 13

chickpea says...

and the sad truth is that so much stigma still surrounds mental illness that the press have to hide the name of the chap in the article to protect his anonymity.
and the sad truth is that so much stigma still surrounds mental illness that the press have to hide the name of the chap in the article to protect his anonymity. chickpea
  • Score: 7

5:43pm Mon 23 Sep 13

Digeorge says...

To say my care pathway out of our local teaching hospitals has been a rocky roller coaster for the past 20 years would be an understatement.

One rule - never have a child that dies in Yorkshire as you will never be allowed to get over it.

2. Never have anything rare as most of the time people don't believe you.

3. Never have a syndrome as that incurs the 'learning disability' tab (nope don't have that) but targeted for it, wasted clinic appointments.

4. In wrong waiting list for psychology - should have been a 'health' issue.

5. What happens when things go wrong - refer to psychiatrist, psychology.

6. Good heavens, I am not allowed to be 'depressed' or tearful during a clinic appointment when you are given bad news.

The nicest person that I have actually met was my psychiatrist out of Leeds & York Partnership Trust in Leeds who sorted out my psychiatric drugs which includes a complex issue of calcium problems and also long qt syndrome additional to my genetic code. My psychiatrist had some sympathy and empathy which others failed to match who was appalled by my care and treatment after reading my notes (not my son's) and what has been going on in the form of what looks like 'research without care'.

I was fortunate to in getting help through the 'exceptional circumstances panel' of the Local Commissioning Group to my counsellor who has helped enormously, I had known him before and was shocked that issues with me were still going on!!

What has not helped has been the repeated press releases on the congenital heart disease issue. Many of the 'affected' parents feel the same and I should not have had to find out that it was my son who should have been on their list many years later and the constant reporting of this issue has made people have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Nor should I have had to find out what infection my son had died many years later i.e.13 years and 21 years since he was born and which I am now treated with antibiotics.

How is it that you can go on those lists from ENT in York when you have an ear infection that should be treated by doing a culture and giving antibiotics. Yet they put me on that waiting list for 2 years. I realised that it was a set up and didn't go, thank goodness and is now being treated with antibiotics.

You wonder how these false allegations happen as unfortunately live in a hot spot of stupid mental health theories which have been disproved and other labels that are entirely useless.

Thankfully, I have my care which I have to say is pretty good from both the psychiatrist, endocrinologist and GP as well as a few in Newcastle.

As for my history, well I haven't got Munchausens/Factitio
us Illness or whatever but I am depressed.

Depressed at not being treated properly for the past 21 years, depressed at not having a job and my health not good. Thanks but I had a life before all this genetic 'research'.

York's lists for mental health are a scandal and not helped by the government not giving York any money. Apparently when in Bootham you don't get access to psychological therapies whilst in the hospital. Like they are living in the 19th century not the 21st.

Nor would I think that any computer assisted programme would help me! Yes, depressed as don't need an in depth assessment to realise why!!
To say my care pathway out of our local teaching hospitals has been a rocky roller coaster for the past 20 years would be an understatement. One rule - never have a child that dies in Yorkshire as you will never be allowed to get over it. 2. Never have anything rare as most of the time people don't believe you. 3. Never have a syndrome as that incurs the 'learning disability' tab (nope don't have that) but targeted for it, wasted clinic appointments. 4. In wrong waiting list for psychology - should have been a 'health' issue. 5. What happens when things go wrong - refer to psychiatrist, psychology. 6. Good heavens, I am not allowed to be 'depressed' or tearful during a clinic appointment when you are given bad news. The nicest person that I have actually met was my psychiatrist out of Leeds & York Partnership Trust in Leeds who sorted out my psychiatric drugs which includes a complex issue of calcium problems and also long qt syndrome additional to my genetic code. My psychiatrist had some sympathy and empathy which others failed to match who was appalled by my care and treatment after reading my notes (not my son's) and what has been going on in the form of what looks like 'research without care'. I was fortunate to in getting help through the 'exceptional circumstances panel' of the Local Commissioning Group to my counsellor who has helped enormously, I had known him before and was shocked that issues with me were still going on!! What has not helped has been the repeated press releases on the congenital heart disease issue. Many of the 'affected' parents feel the same and I should not have had to find out that it was my son who should have been on their list many years later and the constant reporting of this issue has made people have post-traumatic stress disorder. Nor should I have had to find out what infection my son had died many years later i.e.13 years and 21 years since he was born and which I am now treated with antibiotics. How is it that you can go on those lists from ENT in York when you have an ear infection that should be treated by doing a culture and giving antibiotics. Yet they put me on that waiting list for 2 years. I realised that it was a set up and didn't go, thank goodness and is now being treated with antibiotics. You wonder how these false allegations happen as unfortunately live in a hot spot of stupid mental health theories which have been disproved and other labels that are entirely useless. Thankfully, I have my care which I have to say is pretty good from both the psychiatrist, endocrinologist and GP as well as a few in Newcastle. As for my history, well I haven't got Munchausens/Factitio us Illness or whatever but I am depressed. Depressed at not being treated properly for the past 21 years, depressed at not having a job and my health not good. Thanks but I had a life before all this genetic 'research'. York's lists for mental health are a scandal and not helped by the government not giving York any money. Apparently when in Bootham you don't get access to psychological therapies whilst in the hospital. Like they are living in the 19th century not the 21st. Nor would I think that any computer assisted programme would help me! Yes, depressed as don't need an in depth assessment to realise why!! Digeorge
  • Score: 4

6:17pm Mon 23 Sep 13

justanotherstatistic says...

2 years! And now the government are shafting me regarding benefits (6 months no money),severe, yet well enough to work. This country stinks. I feel like the only human being on this planet. Degrading enough I lost my house, job and years out of what should have been a wonderful life...waste of space
2 years! And now the government are shafting me regarding benefits (6 months no money),severe, yet well enough to work. This country stinks. I feel like the only human being on this planet. Degrading enough I lost my house, job and years out of what should have been a wonderful life...waste of space justanotherstatistic
  • Score: 0

6:57pm Mon 23 Sep 13

Dribbly says...

Just another legacy from the one burning for eternity at her fathers right hand.
Just another legacy from the one burning for eternity at her fathers right hand. Dribbly
  • Score: 1

12:07am Tue 24 Sep 13

NoMorePlease says...

One rule - never have a child that dies in Yorkshire as you will never be allowed to get over it.

A disgraceful comment
One rule - never have a child that dies in Yorkshire as you will never be allowed to get over it. A disgraceful comment NoMorePlease
  • Score: 1

12:09am Tue 24 Sep 13

NoMorePlease says...

Dribbly wrote:
Just another legacy from the one burning for eternity at her fathers right hand.
Is this a reference to a former Prime Minister or code for a secret religion
[quote][p][bold]Dribbly[/bold] wrote: Just another legacy from the one burning for eternity at her fathers right hand.[/p][/quote]Is this a reference to a former Prime Minister or code for a secret religion NoMorePlease
  • Score: -3

7:13am Tue 24 Sep 13

Digeorge says...

One rule - never have a child that dies in Yorkshire as you will never be allowed to get over it.

I NEVER have been allowed to, I have had a child that died aged 8 and neither have other people who have also been accused and what they have subsequently been through.

So it is not disgraceful it is the TRUTH.
One rule - never have a child that dies in Yorkshire as you will never be allowed to get over it. I NEVER have been allowed to, I have had a child that died aged 8 and neither have other people who have also been accused and what they have subsequently been through. So it is not disgraceful it is the TRUTH. Digeorge
  • Score: 0

7:28am Tue 24 Sep 13

Digeorge says...

What upset me this time was a consultant in 2011 trying to do the 'learning thing' when I have a degree to justify what the paediatrician 'thought', well she was wrong. Thankfully the psychiatrist, sorted out the rubbish and the counsellor who is counselling said well you have a 1st in some of your degree subjects! The psychologist locally stopped the 'clock' well after I had finished to try to justify here conclusion, thankfully I had a previous one done but it sure does look odd. Well how can I do this, this and this with that! It was a joke.

When you have walked a mile in my shoes don't judge because clearly haven't lost a child in North Yorkshire and what has gone one and that includes what has gone on in the congenital heart unit in 2013. These are new cases, all of whom should have been offered counselling when their tragedies struck and the trauma that they have been left with, shameful and what happened to the shaken baby syndrome case.
What upset me this time was a consultant in 2011 trying to do the 'learning thing' when I have a degree to justify what the paediatrician 'thought', well she was wrong. Thankfully the psychiatrist, sorted out the rubbish and the counsellor who is counselling said well you have a 1st in some of your degree subjects! The psychologist locally stopped the 'clock' well after I had finished to try to justify here conclusion, thankfully I had a previous one done but it sure does look odd. Well how can I do this, this and this with that! It was a joke. When you have walked a mile in my shoes don't judge because clearly haven't lost a child in North Yorkshire and what has gone one and that includes what has gone on in the congenital heart unit in 2013. These are new cases, all of whom should have been offered counselling when their tragedies struck and the trauma that they have been left with, shameful and what happened to the shaken baby syndrome case. Digeorge
  • Score: 0

11:31am Tue 24 Sep 13

NoMorePlease says...

You had a bad experience at the hands of them, others have the same experience but have found help and support. Do not trot out “walk in my shoes nonsense, you do not know my story either. I have lost a child in Yorkshire.
So your original comment is a gross generalisation and applies only to you and others, not to all who experienced loss.
You had a bad experience at the hands of them, others have the same experience but have found help and support. Do not trot out “walk in my shoes nonsense, you do not know my story either. I have lost a child in Yorkshire. So your original comment is a gross generalisation and applies only to you and others, not to all who experienced loss. NoMorePlease
  • Score: 2

4:26pm Tue 24 Sep 13

Digeorge says...

Actually I think you will find that there are quite a number of people in the same position as me, some even worse on Fragile Hearts and they have lost children too. Sadly there are hot spots and Yorkshire is one.

I have had a bad experience so have others that have not had access to those services, it took me years and when previously they tried it they did the same thing including they tried to do it on my mother as well, who also has a 1st in medicine.

The right way of handling most of our issues was actually didn't need those false allegations at all, and that he would have been referred to a hospice or at least don't have that rubbish thrown at you with a proper diagnosis and prognosis and actually giving us support was the right way to handle it!

Glad you didn't have to witness those experiences but there are plenty more that have.

Ask yourself Meadow, ask yourself Family Court and await the outcomes of the NHS England report when it is published, it has already been recognised as an issue.
Actually I think you will find that there are quite a number of people in the same position as me, some even worse on Fragile Hearts and they have lost children too. Sadly there are hot spots and Yorkshire is one. I have had a bad experience so have others that have not had access to those services, it took me years and when previously they tried it they did the same thing including they tried to do it on my mother as well, who also has a 1st in medicine. The right way of handling most of our issues was actually didn't need those false allegations at all, and that he would have been referred to a hospice or at least don't have that rubbish thrown at you with a proper diagnosis and prognosis and actually giving us support was the right way to handle it! Glad you didn't have to witness those experiences but there are plenty more that have. Ask yourself Meadow, ask yourself Family Court and await the outcomes of the NHS England report when it is published, it has already been recognised as an issue. Digeorge
  • Score: 0

5:24pm Tue 24 Sep 13

Older Sometimes Wiser says...

Mental Health problems are just as important and life threatening as many physical diseases, and the stories related above show just a small fragment of the real picture.Getting adequate relevant treatment seems at times as as likely-as winning the Lottery, and sometimes the Leeds York Mental Health Trust does not appear " fit for purpose" in responding to these manifest needs.
The the local York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) who have the overall responsibility should be as well aware of this as is the City Council Health Scrutiny Committee where local health provision is examined, but "action not words" are required.
It is not just the lack of funds but the lack of a proper understanding of the complex knock-on effects if nothing is done,and reading at the LYPFT current Annual Report will not enlighten you!
Mental Health problems are just as important and life threatening as many physical diseases, and the stories related above show just a small fragment of the real picture.Getting adequate relevant treatment seems at times as as likely-as winning the Lottery, and sometimes the Leeds York Mental Health Trust does not appear " fit for purpose" in responding to these manifest needs. The the local York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) who have the overall responsibility should be as well aware of this as is the City Council Health Scrutiny Committee where local health provision is examined, but "action not words" are required. It is not just the lack of funds but the lack of a proper understanding of the complex knock-on effects if nothing is done,and reading at the LYPFT current Annual Report will not enlighten you! Older Sometimes Wiser
  • Score: 1

7:10pm Thu 26 Sep 13

Digeorge says...

I have responded to York Mind's Survey, please feel free to contact me as why this service is wholly inadequate and 'fit for purpose' as really me and many others should have been addressed a very long time ago. There are people going through 'real' grief.

It is quite useless to put on a waiting list for 2 years, computer aided assessments are useless as is hospital complaints procedures and what has gone on in my case when 'depression' is part of the overall clinical picture and actually after dealing with 21 years of 22q11 in my life and what has gone on in respect of deceit and cover-up, munchausen's, factitious twaddle it should STOP.

In fact, if people did understand the ESA criteria properly that mental health indicators are a huge part of the ability to cope with change. Right now, I need people on board that understand this complex pathway that I have had to put up with for 21 years, it is a lifetime and wish I had never heard of it!!
I have responded to York Mind's Survey, please feel free to contact me as why this service is wholly inadequate and 'fit for purpose' as really me and many others should have been addressed a very long time ago. There are people going through 'real' grief. It is quite useless to put on a waiting list for 2 years, computer aided assessments are useless as is hospital complaints procedures and what has gone on in my case when 'depression' is part of the overall clinical picture and actually after dealing with 21 years of 22q11 in my life and what has gone on in respect of deceit and cover-up, munchausen's, factitious twaddle it should STOP. In fact, if people did understand the ESA criteria properly that mental health indicators are a huge part of the ability to cope with change. Right now, I need people on board that understand this complex pathway that I have had to put up with for 21 years, it is a lifetime and wish I had never heard of it!! Digeorge
  • Score: 1

8:58pm Fri 27 Sep 13

jadegarden says...

I had to wait 1 year and 8 months to get psychotherapy for my ptsd to deal with childhood neglect/abuse and rape, it was horrific having to wait that long for help. Its inhumane to make people wait that long for support.
I had to wait 1 year and 8 months to get psychotherapy for my ptsd to deal with childhood neglect/abuse and rape, it was horrific having to wait that long for help. Its inhumane to make people wait that long for support. jadegarden
  • Score: 1

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