Jersey Talking Therapies was launched in 2014 to provide help and advice for Islanders suffering anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias and PTSD.
The service offers advice sessions with professional therapists for adults in their doctor’s surgery, at a central hub in St Helier, or over the phone.
Last month a freedom of information request revealed that the service’s average waiting time last year for an assessment of someone in need of ‘severe and complex psychological intervention’ was 22 weeks, while the average waiting time for treatment was 29 weeks.
Islanders with low-severity issues had to wait on average 26 weeks for treatment, while moderate-intervention cases waited 33 weeks.
Reacting to the news, an Islander who has used Jersey Talking Therapies in the past for anxiety treatment, and who has asked not to be identified, said that she had approached the service again after being involved in a severe vehicle accident last summer.
Six months later, she explained that she was recently told she may now have to wait more than a year for treatment for PTSD.
‘I initially used Talking Therapies last year before the accident for anxiety. I first spoke to them in the summer of 2017 and I didn’t receive the treatment until April 2018, so I had to wait the best part of a year,’ she said.
‘I approached them for further treatment after the accident. I did tests and my scores came back high, so I was a severe case.
‘I was told that the waiting list would be six months and then two weeks ago I had a phone call from them and they said it could be at least a year.’
The woman, who works as an office manager, said that the first round of treatment she received from Talking Therapies would have been far more effective had she received it much sooner.
‘It was very frustrating. I still received my treatment in the end and it did benefit me, but not as much as it would have when I first went to see them,’ she said.
She added that she had now turned to alternative services while waiting for treatment, which has helped, but was concerned that she had to find out about them herself.
‘It wasn’t Talking Therapies’ fault for the waiting list – they did not have the resources. My therapist was very helpful and recommended a book I could read, which helped, but it is not the same as speaking to someone,’ she said.
‘I have found other people who can help me. The Jersey Recovery College is very good and it is a charity, so provided a free service.
‘But I stumbled across that service myself – I wasn’t told about them. I think that if Talking Therapies could at least suggest that there are other people out there that would help.’
Last month Cheryl Power, director of specialist services in Health and Community Services, said Talking Therapies was suffering staffing shortages, along with the wider department, and that the use of technology was being considered to address the waiting time issues.
In 2015 it was reported that the service had been affected by ‘significant staff absence’, with patients waiting for up to 18 weeks for therapy.