Six-month waiting list for psychological treatment
ISLANDERS in need of ‘severe and complex’ psychological help are having to wait more than six months for treatment from a counselling service, it has been revealed.
Jersey Talking Therapies was launched in 2014 with the intention of providing help and advice for Islanders suffering from anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The service provides professional therapists who can talk to adults suffering from these mental-health issues in their doctor’s surgery, at a central hub in St Helier or over the phone.
A freedom of information request has revealed that the service’s average waiting time last year for an assessment of someone in need of ‘severe and complex psychological intervention’ was 22 weeks, while the average waiting time for treatment was 29 weeks.
Meanwhile, Islanders with low-severity issues had to wait an average of 26 weeks for treatment, while those requiring moderate intervention waited 33 weeks.
James Le Feuvre, executive director of Mind Jersey, said he was worried about the length of the waiting lists and would like to see Health and Community Services address the matter.
‘These are long waiting times and are a matter of concern. We know that early interventions can make a big difference in helping people manage their mental health, wellbeing and recovery,’ he said.
‘It is therefore important when they have come forward seeking help that they are assessed as soon as possible and that their treatment can follow on without undue delay.
‘I know that Health and Community Services are aware of these long waits and we look forward to these being reduced in 2019.’
Since Talking Therapies was launched five years ago, 7,075 people have been referred to it.
Cheryl Power, director of specialist services in Health and Community Services, said Talking Therapies was suffering staffing shortages, along with the wider department, and the use of technology was being considered to address the waiting time issue.
‘There have been some recruitment and retention issues which have been a concern for Jersey Talking Therapies and across Health and Community Services as a whole,’ she said.
‘In total JTT has the equivalent of 13 full-time staff but three of these posts are vacant. These roles are currently out for advert and the hope is within the next few months that they will be filled.
‘We are also proactively looking at how we can offer support using different ways than we currently do. In the UK there is increasing use of digital technologies as an approach to support people experiencing mental health difficulties and this is something they are looking into.
‘For instance there may be a number of people who might be able to access psychological support though an online facility rather than face to face. We know interacting with digital technology works for some people and it may be an opportunity to work with people who are waiting on a waiting list.’