Imagine the outcry if this was happening to cancer patients

Thousands of people have attempted suicide while on an NHS waiting list for psychological treatment, according to a comprehensive new study of mental health services in England.

In the latest evidence of a hidden mental health crisis, a coalition of leading charities and medical professionals report that one in 10 patients are waiting for more than a year just to be assessed for treatment, and one in six made an attempt on their life while on a waiting list.

GPs report a “huge rise” in the number of mental health conditions, which has coincided with cuts to mental health services and psychotherapy posts in many parts of the country.

The consequent delays in accessing treatment can be disastrous for patients, the report from the We Need to Talk coalition warns.

Mark Winstanley, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness said evidence of year-long waits, as well as failures to refer patients at all, were “disgraceful”.

“Talking therapies should not be seen as ‘optional extra’, and everyone going through mental illness should be offered this treatment,” he said.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said it was “unacceptable” for anyone with mental health problems to have to wait over a year for treatment.

More: Thousands attempt suicide while on NHS waiting list for psychological help

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