Wait­ing weeks for help

Psy­chol­o­gists in grow­ing de­mand for men­tal ill­ness

Stanthorpe Border Post - - NEWS - Liana Walker Liana.Walker@bor­der­post.com.au

AWARE­NESS and un­der­stand­ing of men­tal health is­sues has led to more res­i­dents seek­ing help, Stan­thorpe psy­chol­o­gist El­iz­a­beth Searle says.

This in­crease over the past 10 years has meant psy­chol­o­gists in town are in high de­mand, be­ing booked out for weeks in ad­vance.

Mrs Searle said there were wait­ing lists of up to seven weeks for the four to five new re­fer­rals each week.

She said although some peo­ple got in early due to can­cel­la­tions, seven weeks was too long to be wait­ing.

“It’s rare to be able to ring up and get an ap­point­ment the fol­low­ing week,” she said.

“Seven weeks is a long time to wait when you feel like your head’s about to burst.”

Mrs Searle said prac­tis­ing good well-be­ing was one way to free up the wait­ing lists.

“If we could per­suade peo­ple to im­prove their sleep pat­tern, im­prove their nu­tri­tion, and move a lit­tle bit more than some peo­ple do, lots of things would set­tle down,” she said.

“Be­ing well is not rocket sci­ence, but when we’re un­well we for­get to do the sim­ple things that con­trib­ute to our well­ness.”

She said group pro­grams such as Happy Chats which meets on Tues­days at Hil­ton Stor the Men’s Shed which meets on Wed­nes­days were a good start­ing place.

Stan­thorpe woman He­len Fer­rier hosts group well-be­ing ses­sions.

Mrs Fer­rier said these fo­cused on early in­ter­ven­tion and pre­ven­tion but were not a re­place­ment for more se­vere men­tal health cases.

“If you get early in­ter­ven­tion it can help pre­vent the wors­en­ing of symp­toms,” she said.

“These in­ter­ven­tion pro­grams can help re­duce the wait­ing lists for peo­ple who do need to see psy­chol­o­gists for se­ri­ous is­sues.”

“If there’s an al­ter­na­tive for peo­ple with milder symp­toms and they come to a group, that can help them cope in the mean­time.”

Mrs Fer­rier said mind­ful­ness was not a re­place­ment for pro­fes­sional help.

“I’m a health prac­ti­tioner and a mind­ful­ness prac­ti­tioner, but I’m not a men­tal health prac­ti­tioner,” she said.

“I re­fer on to the psy­chol­o­gists any­one who I’d be con­cerned about.”

Dar­ling Downs Health Ser­vice, Ru­ral Men­tal Health Ser­vice man­ager Teifi Wil­lis said Stan­thorpe Hospi­tal treated pa­tients with mod­er­ate to clin­i­cal men­tal health is­sues.

“Res­i­dents can self-re­fer to the ser­vice, or via their gen­eral prac­ti­tioner or hospi­tal emer­gency depart­ment,” Ms Wil­lis said.

“All re­fer­rals are ac­tioned within clin­i­cally rec­om­mended time frames.”

PHOTO: LIANA WALKER

WELL-BE­ING FIRST: He­len Fer­rier, who runs well-be­ing work­shops, says early in­ter­ven­tion is key to free­ing up hos­pi­tals and psy­chol­o­gists’ wait­ing lists.

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