People with mental health problems are struggling to get the right treatment promptly, says Sheffield-based watchdog

Patients struggling with their mental health have spoken about the battles they have faced trying to get help.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 2:34 pm

Healthwatch Sheffield says professionals aren’t always good at identifying patient’s mental health, people can wait years for a diagnosis and there is poor communication between GPs and other services.

It heard from nine people, with the help of charity Sheffield Flourish, about the challenges of getting the right treatment.

Hannah’s anxiety was labelled as a “behaviour issue” in her teens and her GP didn’t know about her therapy treatment or her hospital admissions due to poor communication between services.

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Mental health issues.

Leigh explained the gap in support before reaching crisis point: “It’s like you are ok and can manage or you are in complete crisis and have to go to A&E.

“In between there is a grey area and a lot of people are in that area for a long time. We need help at that stage because we don’t want to get to the point of harming ourselves.”

Ursula didn’t receive a proper diagnosis until adulthood. She said: “I saw my psychiatrist when I was seven years old because I was self-harming but I wasn’t properly diagnosed until I was 33 when I found out I had Borderline Personality Disorder.

“I went home and googled it and I ticked all the boxes. It was like a whole world opened up to me because I realised what was wrong with me.”

Billy needed an emergency appointment but struggled after waiting seven months for Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). His referral wasn’t made at first, as the GP, hospital, and CAMHS hadn’t communicated.

His mum Sarah said: “We decided to take Billy to A&E to speed up the referral but the doctor said there was nothing he could do except write to our GP. He discharged Billy and wrote the letter; we later found out that the original referral by our GP had never been made.”

Healthwatch’s report has made recommendations about better communication; an increased focus on providing the right care for individuals and increased awareness of culturally sensitive care.