The waiting time in psychiatry is increasing: Fride (20) had to wait half a year for help

I got to a point where I thought that I either have to get help, or I can’t do it anymore, she says.

After half a year of waiting, Stokke Dyb was finally offered health care. When the choice was between taking a place in psychiatry in Ålesund or studying in Oslo, she prioritized her health.

She believes that the increased waiting time could, in the worst case, lead to more people taking their own lives while waiting for help.

Long waiting times

More and more children and young people find that they do not receive treatment as quickly as they are entitled to.

New figures show that the waiting time for children and young people in psychiatry in Helse Møre og Romsdal was up to 85 days in July. At the same time last year, the waiting time was 65 days.

The health insurance company has a deadline that says how long it will take before you get help. How long the deadline is is individual in each case, according to the Directorate of Health. But those under the age of 23 have a guarantee of a maximum of 65 days waiting time.

In July, the country’s healthcare companies broke the waiting period in 52 cases.

– Very serious situation

Last year, 658 people took their own lives in Norway. Adrian Lorentsson in Mental Health Youth believes that the increased waiting time in psychiatry has a connection with that.

– For those who sit and wait, this is a very serious situation, he says and continued:

Adrian Lorentsson in Mental Health Youth says the waiting time can mean life or death.

Photo: Private

– Once people have asked for help, there is an enormous threshold to overcome. The fact that one experiences being taken seriously then is completely decisive for how things develop further.

Lorentsson is convinced that lives are now being lost because people do not get help quickly enough.

– If the government doesn’t do something now, we won’t all get along.

New escalation plan

State Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Care, Ole Henrik Krat Bjørkholt, says it is worrying that waiting times for children and young people are increasing.

They are now working on a new escalation plan for mental health, which will be submitted in 2023.

– We know that the extent of serious mental illness among young people has increased. It looks like it is a consequence of the pandemic. Eating disorders, anxiety and depression have increased significantly in a short time.

State Secretary Ole Henrik Krat Bjørkholt (Ap)

– We are working on a new escalation plan for mental health, which will both deal with low-threshold offers and increase capacity in specialist health services, says State Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Care, Ole Henrik Krat Bjørkhol.

Photo: Esten Borgos, Borgos Photo AS

– The capacity in the healthcare system has not decreased, but the demand has increased greatly in a short time, says Bjørkholt.

They will now prioritize reducing waiting times, and making up for the treatment backlog that has arisen during the pandemic, he says.

Bjørkholt says this year they have increased the licenses for mental health and dementia services by NOK 700 million, and that they have made clear demands on hospitals that they must have increased capacity.

– It’s not like we’re just thinking of doing something in a while, we’ve already done something. But we see that it is not enough, and therefore we are making an escalation plan.

Working to increase capacity

Ståle Hoff, clinic manager in Helse Møre og Romsdal, would like to regret that children and young people in the county have to wait so long for mental health care.

– We are now working very concretely with measures to reduce the waiting time. We have entered into an agreement with private actors who will set up outpatient services, both in Ålesund and in Molde. When they come up and go, we will increase the capacity considerably in our county.

Ståle Hoff

Clinic manager for mental health care and substance abuse in Helse Møre og Romsdal, Ståle Hoff, says it is important that young people get help quickly.

Photo: Kristin Støylen

He says the waiting time is due to the fact that they have had a large increase in the number of patients after the pandemic. Hoff believes that it has been easier to increase capacity in big cities, because there has been access to more professionals there.

– But now we are taking measures, which will hopefully be up and running beyond the autumn. It is important that young people get help quickly, says the clinic manager.

Fride Stokke Deep

After half a year of waiting, Fride Stokke Dyb was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type two when she finally received health care.

Photo: Marius Åmbakk Bjørkedal / NRK

Waiting time of under a month

Last autumn, Fride Stokke Dyb moved to the neighboring municipality to start her studies. Again she felt a need for help and decided to apply there. Then the waiting time was less than a month.

– I think it was easier to get help there, because I had already received a diagnosis. If I hadn’t had it, I think it would have taken as long as in Ålesund.

Stokke Dyb believes that getting help quickly is important, because you never know how quickly things can go wrong.

The waiting time is far too long. Too many people take their own lives in the meantime. And there are too many who do not get help.

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