"Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and access to services/treatment"

About: Livewell South West

(as the patient),

I am a student at the University of Plymouth. As a result of mental health issues, I am currently repeating the first year of my undergraduate course. In the summer of 2015, with the help of my disability support mentor from the university, I applied for CBT with Plymouth Options, Plymouth Community Healthcare.  I found the long waiting time difficult and this exacerbated the stress.

Due to my anxiety issues, I felt that getting CBT was the right thing for me to do. I was assigned with a therapist and the treatment was definitely making a positive difference, as it helped me to talk through and rationalise my problems.

However, I was told by my therapist that I had up to 6 sessions. I was under the impression that once those 6 sessions were up, I could simply get assessed by my therapist and continue treatment with no delays or issues whatsoever. I was feeling more or less happy with this perception I had. However, to my surprise, I realised that as my sessions were coming to an end, I was to be discharged and forced to re-apply for more treatment.

As my discharge occurred during the beginning of the academic year, a period in which I was suffering mental health difficulties already, I found that being discharged has greatly exacerbated my stress and anxiety. I have practically felt unsupported and left to fend for myself, even to the point of feeling suicidal at times. The only alternative I can pursue is private healthcare which I cannot afford or university counselling, which I don't wish to do.

Personally, I am sick and tired of having to meet new people to discuss my problems over and over again. I get very anxious meeting new people and I was already comfortable with the therapist I previously had. Therefore, I simply just want to continue receiving CBT from my previous therapist.

As a result of being discharged, I have received no adequate support since and I am close to breaking point. Upon hearing that once I re-apply I will have to wait for at least a month or longer, go through a physical check-up with my GP and have an assessment before receiving more treatment, I had several mental breakdowns which has subsequently caused me to seriously falter in my academic progress. I have also lost control and damaged several items in my house.

Once I consulted my GP, I was then asked to book an appointment for an assessment, to see if CBT is suitable for me. Then I was assigned another therapist when I specifically requested to be assigned to my previous one, because I feel this is better for my treatment.

I am upset and angry at being discharged because I still need the service, the re-application waiting time is too long and excessive bureaucracy is causing me immense amounts of stress. I feel like nobody cares. People say they do, but I am seriously starting to doubt this. I sometimes feel suicidal but I'm also worried that I will be denied service due to me possibly being deemed "unsuitable". I know that will just make me feel worse and if anything, will make me want to actually make a plan and execute it. I know that having the therapy with my previous therapist as soon as possible would make me feel better. Then I can tackle my academic issues and recover.

I am quite frankly disgusted at the whole system and these policies of only allowing a limited number of sessions. I also have a problem with the amount of allotted time for each session. I feel that 30-45 minutes is far too short and it just makes me feel even worse knowing that the clock is constantly ticking and time is disappearing. I personally blame these policies for my stress and anxiety that I am experiencing at this time.

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Response from Claire Gatehouse, Patient Experience Manager, Livewell South West

Dear Concerned Student,

I am truly sorry to hear of the anxiety and distress that you have experienced as a result of your CBT service being shorter than you had expcted, and due to the other issues you have outlined.

I will forward your posting to the service manager and ask her to respond to your concerns ASAP.

However, since the posting is anonymous it will difficult for us to identify any issues that gave rise to this misunderstanding.

If you feel comfortable doing so, please feel free to contact me with your details so that we can look into this more fully. mu e-mail is claire.gatehouse@nhs.net and my phone number id 01752 434736

You can also make a formal complaint to our Complaints Department at customerservicespch@nhs.net

With Best Wishes

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