Increase in people turning to private counselling due to NHS waiting lists

PUBLISHED: 09:54 13 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:36 13 August 2018

Wellspring director Sarah Rees.

Wellspring director Sarah Rees.

Archant

A rising number of people are seeking help from private counselling services, leaving one North Somerset charity struggling to cope with demand.

Wellspring, which offers affordable counselling for adults and free services for young people, has reported a ‘considerable rise’ in demand in the past 18 months.

The charity believes the increase could be due to awareness campaigns, coupled with long NHS waiting lists.

Wellspring director Sarah Rees said: “Wellspring has seen a considerable rise in demand for both our adult and young people counselling services in the past 18 months.

“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why this is, but we believe the publicity by well-known public figures speaking out about their own struggles and encouraging people to ask for help, may have had an impact on demand.

“Reducing the shame which has previously been attached to asking for help is vitally important.

“However, having increased service provision in place has not yet happened, leaving many clients frustrated.”

A survey by online services marketplace bark.com reported a 65 per cent increase in demand for private counselling services since 2016.

Out of those surveyed, 77 per cent said they sought private help because NHS waiting lists are too long.

Sarah added: “Wellspring has no statutory funding for our counselling work and is often the first place clients come for help when the NHS can’t see them, but we are struggling to keep up with demand.

“Wellspring is particularly important as a service which supports local people who can’t afford to pay for private counselling.

“Wellspring supports the ongoing campaigns for mental health to receive equal attention and funding alongside physical health, especially given what is known about the impact of poor mental health on outcomes for physical health treatments.”

The charity has also joined the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme by taking on two wellbeing practitioners in training who are currently placed at three secondary schools to provide early intervention cognitive behavioural therapy for people with low to moderate anxiety and depression.

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