‘I didn’t matter’: the long wait for mental health treatment

I’ve always been a worrier, back into my teens,” said Helen Convery, 43, a radiographer from Epsom who has seen the best and the worst of the NHS’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme.

Her most recent mental health problems emerged, as in so many cases, when she was engulfed by a pile-up of problems in her life. Last summer, her husband’s illness had returned, her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she herself had been diagnosed with health problems.

“All three things happened in the space of a couple of months,” she said. “I had a breakdown.” The crunch point came when she could not cope with the routine chore of washing clothes any more.


Her first brush with depression had been in 2006, before IAPT existed. But then in 2012 an illness her husband suffered and relationship issues caused her serious anxiety. She was tearful, tired and kept cancelling social engagements at the last minute. Her GP put her on antidepressants and warned her there would be a long wait for the IAPT consultation that was supposed to give her access to talking therapies on the NHS.

“I didn’t hear anything for three months,” she said. “I thought I had fallen through the system.”

Full story in The Guardian 26 January 2016