A DUNFERMLINE man has spoken of his feeling of isolation after waiting nearly a year for a mental health appointment.

After plucking up the courage to speak to his GP, the man, who wants to remain anonymous, was given medication and referred for additional help. He received a letter from NHS Fife last December to say he was on a waiting list but is still waiting to be seen.

“It's now 11 months since I took the step to speak to someone about how I felt and I am still waiting to be assessed!” he told the Press.

“The tablets were helping but I was not feeling I was moving forward. I was worried about what to do as I don’t want to be waiting a year with no-one listening, this alone makes me feel isolated and not important enough for even the health service to help me.”

While acknowledging that he wasn’t in a “crisis situation”, the patient believes issues may be resolved soon if help was provided sooner rather than later.

“I really cannot understand why people have to be at crisis to be helped. The NHS would not wait until everyone had a heart attack before seeing them. They would try to help before that so why is mental health different?”

Frustrated with the lack of progress, he paid for private counselling sessions which he has found extremely valuable.

“Why should people have to pay for private help when the NHS is there for us?” he added. “I am lucky enough that I could find the money to spend on some sessions and the counsellor has been amazing and this is helping.

“Surely if the NHS is not able to provide a service they should pay for the time of amazing counsellors who are around that can provide the help quicker! I was seen within a week and at a time which suited me.”

Lou Elder, who runs It’s a Colourful World counselling service in Saline, said most of her clients have turned to her after becoming frustrated at NHS Fife.

“They realise they are going to have to wait a long, long time,” she said. “At a time when suicide rates are shooting up massively, especially with men, there is nowhere for people to go after they have been to their GPs.

“The more you sit on things, the longer it is going to take. People are having to wait a year or two years and that is just for an appointment to start the process of getting help.”

Fife Health and Social Care Partnership's Julie Paterson said they were working hard to ensure patients are seen in a timely manner – including same day responses for those in urgent need.

“It is important to recognise the number of referrals continues to grow in line with national trends,” she said.

“In response to increasing demand a number of positive actions are progressing, including a large scale redesign of our services and early intervention strategies to address and support good mental health at an early stage.

"The website accesstherapiesfife.scot.nhs.uk is a significant development in psychological therapies through self-referral and builds on our ambition to remove barriers that deter people from seeking help.”