THOSE of us who talk about feeling depressed after a tough day at work have no inkling about the true nature of severe clinical depression.
It is a serious medical condition that can have a devastating effect on the lives of sufferers and their families.
That is why it was such a scandal when, last year, it emerged that hundreds of patients in North Yorkshire suffering from conditions such as severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder were being forced to wait more than a year for proper psychological therapy.
By March this year the situation had improved slightly. But mental health provider the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust admitted there were still 128 people on a 10-month waiting list for high-intensity cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). To date, 78 people with severe mental health problems remain on a 15-month waiting list for CBT.
That is still far too many severely ill people waiting far too long for the treatment they desperately need. Hopefully, the situation will now begin to improve more rapidly. The Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has invested £290,000 to pay for eight new therapists to reduce the waiting list. By the end of the year, the CCG says, it will have doubled the number of people who can access the service.
This is very welcome news. But why it has taken so long? We know that money is tight in the NHS. But in the context of the CCG’s multi-million pound budget, £290,000 to address such a shocking gap in provision doesn’t seem much. The cost to patients, their families and society of leaving these desperate people untreated for so long is surely much greater.