Navigating delays in accessing healthcare interventions

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Health Assured team

18 April 2024

Years of under-investment and then the unprecedented shock of the Covid-19 pandemic have left many areas in the NHS struggling to keep up.

Patients are facing increased delays at almost every stage of their NHS treatment, as the health system struggles to find the resources to deal with the overwhelming demand for mental health.  

Seeking help for a mental health problem can be difficult, and you might sometimes face barriers to getting the treatment you need and deserve. Unfortunately, the number of people waiting for community mental health care has risen to 1.2 million, leaving many people stranded and facing frustrating delays in accessing healthcare services.

Talk to your GP first (if you can)

You'll need to talk to your GP to use some mental health services. This is known as a GP referral. Your GP can also talk to you about your mental health and help introduce you to the right mental health service for your needs.

Getting hold of a referral and seeing a specialist may take weeks (if not months) depending on your location and surgery. We understand that for people struggling with serious mental health conditions, this timeline is not fit for purpose.

In-the-moment support for anxiety, stress and depression is indispensable in the same way that someone with a broken leg would need to be rushed to A&E in an emergency.

What other options are available?

Get help through your workplace

If your mental health problem is because of stress at work, your employer might be able to refer you to occupational health service through an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

An Assistance Programme is a workplace benefit that provides individuals with counselling and access to a range of health and wellbeing services to help overcome any personal or work-related challenges.

Health Assured offers a safe and confidential space for individuals to discuss their issues 24/7, 365 days a year. Our Assistance Programmes are designed to proactively tackle mental health issues head-on, reducing your absenteeism and staff turnover rates, and increasing productivity.

Get help from your school or college

If you're a child or young person, your school or college might be able to refer you directly to a specialist mental health service.

Find out how to get mental health support if you are a child or young person.

Get help through the private sector

Although it's not an option for many people because of the financial cost, you might feel it's the right choice for you to see a private nurse, doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist – either alongside NHS support or instead of it.

Some private companies may provide an online service where you can talk to a registered GP or therapist over video chat or ask questions via a text messaging service. There are a number of different organisations that can help you find a therapist such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

I’ve tried everything and I’m still struggling to get treatment

If you've already explored all the options your GP has offered, and you haven't found the help you're looking for yet, it can feel like you've tried everything and nothing works. Unfortunately finding the help you need can sometimes be difficult and can take time.

But it's important to remember that you're not alone and that you deserve support.

  1. Keep trying and don't give up. If you've had bad experiences with the people and professionals you've spoken to so far, you could give them another chance – or try again with someone new.
  2. Develop coping techniques. Planning positive ways to look after yourself while you're on waiting lists can help you cope.
  3. Talk to people who understand. Getting support and encouragement from people who've been in a similar situation can be valuable, even if they can't change what you're going through.
  4. Talk to Health Assured. We are here 24/7, 365 to provide compassionate support, whatever challenges you face.

Support your employees with an EAP

With a Health Assured Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), we can offer you practical advice and support when it comes to dealing with workplace stress and anxiety issues.

Our EAP service provides guidance and supports your employees with their mental health in the workplace and at home. We can help you create a safe, productive workspace that supports all.

We support your employees' mental wellbeing with any problems they might be facing in their professional or personal lives with our 24-hour counselling helpline.


Find out more about EAPs


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