Make Mental Health support a right, not a luxury. End excruciating waiting-list in the NHS

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It is estimated that around 800,000 plus referrals are received each year in the NHS from patients requesting psychological support; only 15-25% of them get the support they need. This means, that year on year there is an accumulating waiting list of over half million patients waiting to receive some form of psychological support.

Some wait up to 3 years to access free therapy, some are put on long-term antidepressants treatment whilst waiting for counselling sessions to be allocated to them.

The NHS and Government reports confirms that at present 1 in 4 of us access support. Their current five years strategy plan hopes that by 2020 this will change to 1 in 3; this will still leave hundreds of thousands unable to access support year on year.

 Why do we have such excruciating waiting lists? The reason is simple, there are not sufficient funds allocated to employ the already existing 45,000+ qualified workforce that can, if all employed, provide support to all on waiting lists within one single month. So why do many have to wait up to 3 years for support?

The maths on this subject is straightforward but overlooked; contrary to what some officials seem to report about a workforce crisis within mental health, this is not accurate to the experience of thousands of qualified counsellors and psychotherapists in the country who struggle to find work and are forced to offer their services for free through years of volunteering as there are simply not sufficient funded posts-  instead, Government creative policies plan to give added responsibilities to overworked Teachers across the country for example, by asking them to offer counselling support to students within their classrooms.

We say this not only shows little empathy to the teaching profession, which is highly pressurised and has one of the highest number of people leaving the profession than any other profession in the UK, it also puts at risk the lives of those children and young people who do require professional mental and emotional health support.

Why is it so important to offer psychological and counselling support to all on waiting lists? Because the journey of humanity is not an easy one and challenges us all at some point of our lives. We should as human beings have the right and entitlement to get support when we need it.

It is not fair that patients are turned away when they need support, or incur in debt when having to access private therapy. We now hear of young people needing to have tried to commit suicide at least once before being deemed eligible for immediate support, of patients being quickly prescribed antidepressants as a quick fix instead of being offered talking therapy support.

There has been an alarming increase in the number of people who succeed in taking their own lives. These figures are often not recorded in the mental health stats as they are deemed as death by misadventure. These people sometimes do not even get as far as being able to access any support.

We are calling for Mental Health support to be a right, not a luxury Our country should be able to cater for all whose emotional and mental health is affected by distresses, trauma and tragedies that affect their day to day lives.
Full time paid counsellors can be made available immediately for those who want to access therapy. There are over 45,000 qualified, registered Counsellors and Psychotherapists from one governing body alone offering therapeutic support in a variety of specialities.

If it is about savings, then policymakers need to understand availability of mental health support is a proactive not a reactive way forward.

Early counselling and psychological support will ensure many don't deteriorate in the waiting process, it is not acceptable many are left in isolation at a time of distress and trauma. It is not acceptable that many wait up to 3 years for support.