What’s the longest you have every waited for anything?
Life is full of waiting. You wait for concerts, wait for the RACV when your car won’t start, wait for the microwave to heat up your food.
And many people seeking mental health support wait on waiting lists.
How long should you wait for a mental health appointment?
Recently one of my children attended their first ever music concert.
Do you remember the first concert you ever attended? I think my first was Australian Crawl, my favourite was U2 at Festival Hall (I think), before they started touring stadiums, which my best girlfriend took me to for my birthday.
(We had great seats and it was a magic night. It was amazing.)
The tickets to see The Kid Laroi were purchased about six months ago. My child has been counting down the weeks, the days and then the hours. I’ve been listening to The Kid Laroi in the car for at least that long.
They were dropped in the city to meet with friends around 5pm, lined up to get into the arena, purchased some merchandise, sat through two support acts, posted lead up photos in a private discord chat (so I didn’t see any, because I’m the mum), sat through a sound check by the act themselves and saw the clock hit start time – 9pm.
And then at 9.35pm the show was called off due to The Kid Laroi being ill.
All that waiting.
I couldn’t do anything about their waiting.
but I am trying to do something about people being told they have to wait for a mental health appointment.
How long does it take to get an appointment with a psychologist?
I have had clients say they have been told to expect a year’s wait to get into a psychologist. Now this has been the most extreme example, but I regularly receive calls from people saying they’ve been told to ring around as they will need to wait months and months before being able to get help.
This is problematic in so many ways.
For a start, it’s simply not true.
Whilst there are clinicians who are booked out in advance, many more aren’t.
And while it’s really hard waiting for an artist who doesn’t show, it’s much harder sitting on a waiting list when you need support.
If you've been advised to go on a waiting list, here are four questions to ask.
Four questions to ask before going on someone's waiting list
If you ring a clinic and have been told you can go on a waiting list, ask them:
And a really important point to remember - you do not have see the person you have been referred to. You have a choice.
...you do not have see the person you have been referred to.
What to do when the mental health practitioner you have been referred to does not have available appointments.
If you have a referral and only been given one referral option. check and see if there is a reason why your referrer asked you to see them. There may be a valid reason why a specific practitioner has been recommended. They may be very knowledgeable and have a good success record in your particular area of concern. However, in many cases there are other practitioners who would be equally competent. Always check with your referrer first.
Then you can ask your referrer for more recommendations, search on Google, go to a database like Psychology Today, use an availability list or ask for recommendations from friends.
Waiting for many things is often inevitable. but sometimes waiting for mental health support may not be necessary. And when it is, respectful communication and clear expectations and understanding are important.
What's been your experience with looking for mental health support, maintaining a waiting list, or being on a waiting list?
* These articles are provided by Kim Ross, Psychologist for general information and education . They are not designed to be used for therapy.. If you are experiencing stress please contact your GP or mental health professional.
Kim Ross is an Online Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds and Private Practice Sustainability.