Healthwatch helps end Joe's "excruciating wait" for mental health support

Joe has been "languishing on waiting lists and waiting for phonecalls" for over a year trying to get mental health support. We put him in touch with the Patient Advice and Liaison Service and he has now been able to see a psychiatrist.
Joe Perkins, a man, standing on a bridge over a body of water

Last October, Healthwatch spoke to Joe Perkins, who lives with depersonalisation disorder.

Eight months after his GP referred him to secondary mental health services, Joe was still waiting to hear what was happening about support. When he did receive an assessment, he was given a discharge summary, and a recommendation that he join a mental health group to learn how others cope with similar challenges.

On Healthwatch's recommendation, Joe got in contact with PALS - the Patient Advice and Liaison Service and asked for a review of his case, as he said his overall mental health was "deteriorating over time". One year on, he's been able to see a psychiatrist but is frustrated with how long the process has taken.

Joe says: "Progress might have been made - but it’s taken a year ... So ‘progress’ is a loose term."

Being told I’m going to be allowed to see anybody at all only came about following an official complaints procedure.

He also says that trying to access support for his condition - which is a type of disassociative disorder - has been "been equally as difficult, frustrating, demoralising and upsetting as the struggles of living with a chronic health condition."

"This last year - Covid aside - has done nothing to improve both my condition and overall state of mind. Languishing on waiting lists and waiting for non-existent phone calls is excruciating."

Healthwatch North Somerset has asked Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership, which runs community mental health services, for an update on accessing mental health support for situations like Joe's. They are due to give a statement shortly.

Have you tried to access mental health support during lockdown? Click 'Talk to us' below and share your experience - positive or negative - of accessing support. If you're experiencing a mental health crisis, click to find out more about a new crisis phone service operating in North Somerset.

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