I have lived with mental health problems off and on since I was 14, and my experience of services has been very varied. Two years ago, when I was 25, I needed help. The London GP I saw was great, but I was put on a waiting list for a telephone assessment that I was told would take weeks. It was months before I got a call, which lasted an hour. I was then put on another waiting list to speak to a therapist. I finally took that call 18 months after I had first gone to see my GP to say that I was having problems.
The next time I saw a GP I made an appointment to discuss an ear infection, but in reality I was struggling with stress, depression and anxiety. He persuaded me to talk, and supported me. We discussed antidepressants and he signed me off work and referred me for an assessment. However, again, that took far too long to come through.
I want more people to open up and seek help from their family doctor when they are having mental health problems, which is why I support the mental health charity Mind’s ‘Find the Words’ campaign. But so much more needs to be done to ensure that timely, effective services are in place to help people when they need it most. Sorting that would demonstrate a real commitment to quality care.