Let’s End the Silent Waiting List: Depression Awareness Week

In the UK, thousands of people recover from depression every year and talking therapy has a large role to play in this. However, this still isn’t enough, there is still a huge waiting list and some people can be waiting months before receiving any therapy. This waiting list is just the people that have come forward and asked for help, it doesn’t consider the group of people that haven’t stepped forwarded and asked for the help they need.

Recently this group has become known as the ‘silent waiting list’. Of course it is near impossible to put a figure on this group of people but there is no doubt that it is big. The NHS has a target to make talking therapy available to just 15% of patients requiring help. Already this target is a tiny proportion of the people getting help compared to the amount of people needing it. According to the guidance from the Royal College of GPs fewer than 1 in 6 people even talk to their GP if they are suffering with depression.

The question now is why this silent group doesn’t come forward.

Without a doubt, despite numerous campaigns and popular figures talking about mental health, there is still a slight taboo about your own mental health. People still feel a sense of shame with suffering and often people hide their symptoms. Recently men, in particular, have come more into the spotlight with their struggle with talking and addressing their issues.

The actual practicalities of having therapy have often been cited as an issue also. Clinic hours are often the same as average working hours. Can you just ask your boss for the time off? Childcare might be an issue for others. Travelling to appointments in clinics may be an issue, perhaps they aren’t always local.

People on this silent waiting list are not often suffering with severe mental health concerns; it is often the more common variety of issues such as anxiety, depression, phobias and the aftermath of trauma.

Clinical evidence shows that people with these more common issues respond well to talking therapies. This includes cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and in some cases hypnotherapy. However, there just aren’t the systems in place to get the therapy as quickly as required for everyone. There aren’t enough therapists for starters. Despite the evidence of these treatments working well, it doesn’t not solve the problem of getting people to seek help; getting them out of the shadows of their illness and into treatment.

It has been argued or recommended that technology can help reach out. There is already CBT, with accredited therapists, available across 26 areas in England through the NHS, which is an entirely online version of therapy. All communication is written and is available through computers, tablets and smartphones. It can be accessed at anytime from anywhere essentially. This is helping cut out any accessibility issues. It is also speeds things up considerably, cutting out waiting lists. On average this particular scheme has seen 52% of patients recover.