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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 00:53 GMT
'I was walking the streets screaming'
Paul Davidson
Community work has helped Paul Davidson to overcome his problems
Figures from the Liberal Democrats show massively long waiting times for community mental health services in some areas of the country.

The statistics come as no surprise to Paul Davidson, 50, from Gateshead who was told he would have to wait three-and-a-half years to see a psychologist.

While waiting for treatment, Mr Davidson, twice tried to commit suicide.

He was desperate for help, he says, and was "numb with shock and despair" when he realised he was not going to get it.

Mr Davidson, a former miner, had suffered from depression and anxiety for years but his mental health deteriorated rapidly after the death of his seven-month old son to a rare genetic disorder.

I'm still traumatised that no one would listen to me

"I was walking the streets screaming my head off and having massive panic attacks.

"I was going to the GP every day but they wouldn't listen.

"I needed to confide in someone desperately."

Treatment

He was prescribed antidepressants but they did not seem to help and eventually he saw a psychologist for an initial consultation.

He thought that would be the start of his treatment but was told he would have to wait three-and-a-half years for therapy and to "take it or leave it".

Two-and-a-half years after his initial appointment he finally received a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and received a course of counselling.

But he still believed he needed more and managed to get 10 sessions with a psychologist provided by mental health charity, Mind, who he credits with helping him turn things around.

"I'm still traumatised that no one would listen to me.

"The government need to take depression and anxiety more seriously.

"They need to concentrate on the whole picture, not just the physical side of things.

"And they need to put serious money into it."

Mr Davidson also believes that people should have a choice of the treatment they receive as cognitive behaviour therapy did not work for him and he wanted to speak to someone in more depth about his past.

"There's not enough counsellors and there's not enough time.

In the month when you're waiting for your next appointment you're in danger of committing suicide - so support in between is also vital.

"It's not acceptable, it's shocking."



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