As someone who has suffered from General Anxiety Disorder and depression for over 10 years (most of my adult life from the age of 19 to 30 years of age) I am no stranger to doctors, Psychiatrists, Mental Health Services, CBT etc. you name it… but mid last year I got a particularly bad bout of depression and anxiety with frequent panic attacks. I visited my local GP to get help with this and on my second visit to my GP in the space of a few weeks, he suggested there was a free counselling service available which would really benefit me so I said great as I couldn’t afford to go private at the time. Doctors kept suggesting talking therapy as did my Psychiatrist as they said it would be of great benefit to me.
So a week after he referred me, he gave me a number to ring to confirm my appointment which I did. Months and months passed and not a word about my counselling appointment. I knew I might be waiting a few months but I was at 6 months now and often thought of it wondering why I was never called back and thinking it’s a pity because I’ve tried so many medication routes, I felt maybe the talking route was the way to go.
So finally after 8 months in March of this year, I got a call to meet a Councillor for a session in two weeks’ time. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take that appointment as I had another surgical appointment the same date so I was then offered the 27th April, over a month to wait again.
So I am 9 months waiting now. 9 months on the public system in Ireland.
The lady informed me on the phone that she only takes appointments on a Thursday so that is why there is such a delay. I’m shocked, upset and beyond flabbergasted by this. I’ve suffered horrendously recently, I’ve had the darkest of thoughts, I needed help so badly that I emailed and rang helplines like the Samaritans, and thankfully they were there.
Having suffered with my mental health most of my adult life, I had never experienced suicidal thoughts before, I was thinking of death a lot, of me dying, of my funeral, of what way people would react at it, of what music would be played. These thoughts absolutely terrified me and I knew my mind wasn’t right and that I needed help urgently.
I was still seeing my Psychiatrist but she can only alter the medication, and the changes and switching in medication was unsettling me even further. Even to get an appointment to see a Psychiatrist in my local Mental Health Centre, you’re again talking a few months to be seen, I think I was waiting 3 months to be seen which is again too long to be waiting to be assessed when your mental health is bad. I sense my GP at times doesn’t want to be dealing with my mental health issues as there is only so much she can do when you’re under the mental health board so you’re really at their mercy. The system of healing mental health needs a major overhaul.
About a month and a half ago, things got so bad and scary, I had to get myself in debt by borrowing money to see a private Psychologist at €80 a session but it was a last ditch attempt as I needed help so bad. I have done 3 sessions to date and I am seeing how things go but I notice my mood has certainly improved.
8/9 months is too long to be waiting to see a councillor when you’re feeling this bad not to mention the 2-4 months in between every psychiatric appointment. It’s insane and to get on the list to see a psychiatrist seems to take another lifetime.
It’s no surprise to me that the suicide rate is so high in Ireland when the waiting lists are this long when someone is in severe despair living in a black cloud, or feels they have no way out.
I was so lucky in the fact that I could borrow money to see a private Psychotherapist but so many people couldn’t do this. I honestly believe if I hadn’t seen this lady that things could have got worse for me. It’s said a lot but it is so true – Talking with someone really helps!
I know there may be other great services available throughout Ireland, shorter waiting lists etc. and I don’t in any way want to deter anyone out there reaching out and asking for help, that’s not my intention. But this has been my experience and so I feel it is important to name and acknowledge it as if it’s happening for me, I’m guessing it’s happening for others also, others who may not be able to afford to pay for that help so badly needed.
I hope and pray that someday soon, the mental health service will change in Ireland and people will get the help they need within weeks and not MONTHS, nearly a year! It’s not good enough.
If you need help please talk to friends, family, a GP, therapist or one of the free confidential helpline services. For a full list of national mental health services see yourmentalhealth.ie.
- Samaritans 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pieta House National Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247 or email email@example.com – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement) or text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply)
- Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
- Suicide or Survive – Phone 1890 577 577
If living in Ireland you can find accredited therapists in your area here: