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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 21:44 GMT 22:44 UK
'The services were just not there'
Health and social care watchdogs have warned mental health services need to do more to support patients.

They said despite many people being happy with their care, there were still gaps in the service. One patient recounts her experience.

Kate Austin
Kate has been battling depression since finishing university

Kate Austin's depression started five years ago after she had finished university. She had just completed a course in modern languages, during which she had spent a year in Germany and been bullied.

"It took away a lot of my self esteem," she said.

Ms Austin, from Northampton, was put on medication and started a teacher training course, but it did not last and she ended up living with her parents.

The 27-year-old added: "When you're ill anything extra is a strain. It is like a big black cloud, it overshadows everything."

I do not have any complaints against the people I saw on the NHS. I got the impression they were frustrated they could not offer me more
Kate Austin

Ms Austin started a course of cognitive behaviour therapy, a talking therapy, but it was in a group and she felt frustrated she was not getting one-on-one care.

She said: "Depression is so individual you need to feel you're listened to."

The situation came to a head in October 2005, just after she had started a new job as a teaching assistant.

After a bad period at work she took an overdose.

She was rushed to the local hospital and eventually recovered, but on her release was referred to a trainee psychiatrist from a community mental health team.

"She listened to what I had to say, and did the best she could with the resources she had."

Eventually, Ms Austin turned to the private sector, paying to see a psychologist and psychiatrist because she wanted individual care.

She has since returned to work, this time in a cafe, although she is currently on maternity leave expecting a baby.

She said: "I do not have any complaints against the people I saw on the NHS. I got the impression they were frustrated they could not offer me more.

"It is just that the services do not seem to be there. Maybe you will get them in the end, but you have to wait too long."

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