Page last updated at 05:00 GMT, Sunday, 21 March 2010

'Slow treatment cost me my marriage'

A majority of doctors say they can "rarely" offer psychological therapy to depression sufferers within two months of referral, a study claims. Leigh Bailey, 34, says delays in his treatment had a dramatic effect on him and his family.

"I initially had a nervous breakdown in 1998. I took numerous overdoses that year. It took six months for me to get cognitive behavioural therapy.

"More recently I have had problems accessing group analytical therapy. On one occasion this took around two years from initial conversations with my doctor.

Leigh Bailey
Leigh Bailey is now a qualified gym instructor

"When you need the therapy you're at a crisis point and you've got nowhere else to turn. What are you supposed to do while you are waiting?

"It really makes you lose faith in the system. I even started to deny that I had mental health problems and I wouldn't take my medication, which made things worse.

"The only people I had around me at that time was my family, and it was heart-wrenching for them. You need someone who is detached emotionally, who can look at things from a professional point of view.

"Once I actually got the service it was excellent and really has helped change me.

"There have been other periods of hardship since, which, because of the therapy I received I have been able to cope with. I haven't fallen down and that has made me stronger and more confident.

"I have also benefited from regular exercise. The mental health charity Mind put me 10-week fitness course focussing on Boxercise, which incorporates a number of boxing moves and techniques, without the physical contact. I am now a qualified gym instructor.

"I honestly believe that the time it took for me to receive the therapy and help I needed had an impact on my wife and family leaving me.

"If I had had access to psychological services within 28 days, everything could have been completely different.

"I might still be married now and things would be normal."

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