Exeposé News Issue 634, Page 3 (5 February 2015) and Exeposé News online (8 February 2015)
When waiting lists exceed four to six weeks, Wellbeing now “signposts” students to local services including the NHS Depression and Anxiety Service.
Yet waits for these services have also proven worryingly high – prompting fears that Devon’s mental health services cannot meet demand.
One student who was signposted told Exeposé: “I have been put on an eight month waiting list for therapy and have essentially been left on my own.” Labelling local eating disorder services “appalling,” she said: “there is very little help” available.
Another called CBT waiting lists “incredibly long,” explaining: “I had an initial assessment in March but didn’t receive any kind of support until August, and even then it was only with a trainee for about four sessions.”
“The Health Centre didn’t refer me to Wellbeing because of the wait, but things outside the University seem just as bad,” commented one student. “Three weeks after my referral I finally got an appointment, but I’m now facing a three month wait for therapy. When you’re struggling to keep things together on a day-to-day basis, three months is unthinkably long.”
One student facing a wait of up to another month for treatment noted: “it makes the need for a proper and well-resourced Wellbeing service within the University all the more vital, as the options elsewhere are not good.”
A mental health practitioner in the Devon Partnership NHS Trust told Exeposé that most people referred are assessed within two or three weeks.
When low-intensity CBT is prescribed, therapy often begins straightaway. However, if high-intensity CBT is needed – for complex cases including serious depression – patients can wait up to three months for treatment.
“But what do people expect?” he asked. “The thing about psychological treatment is that it takes time,” he explained. “Even when you start seeing a therapist you won’t get better straight away. The whole thing is about taking your time.”
Andy Stapley, Student Health Centre Manager confirmed that the rise in demand at Exeter “certainly reflects the national trend.” He noted: “mental health awareness campaigns run both locally and nationally are very successful,” adding: “governments tend to be slow to react and the resource needed to cater for increased demand simply isn’t always there,”
Ben Bradshaw told Exeposé he has been “campaigning very hard for improvements” to Devon’s mental health service. He stated that services “in Devon in particular are in crisis,” stressing: “It is vital that mental health problems are addressed quickly because if they’re not they can escalate into a major health crisis for the person affected.”