People seeking treatment for anxiety and depression currently need to wait up to four months for an appointment due to long waiting lists at the outpatient psychiatric ward at Landspítali national university hospital.Landspítali (foreground). Photo copyright Icelandic Photo Agency.
According to the director of the Icelandic Association of Psychologists, Halla Þorvaldsdóttir, a lot of people have been referred to the hospital from healthcare centers.
“These are people with common mental issues such as anxiety disorders, depression and melancholy. There are little or no resources for these people in the healthcare centers and so they are referred to the outpatient psychiatric ward. Therapy should be the first treatment for most types of depression and anxiety, as indicated in clinical guidelines, not medication,” Halla told mbl.is.
According to Halla, the wait impacts people differently. “In many cases it makes it worse. Sometimes it improves, others may look elsewhere, for example to self-employed psychologists. But that is expensive because the cost falls entirely on the individual.”
Halla emphasized that psychological services are the only health services for which the public receives zero subsidy through national health insurance. “We now have a record in the use of anti-depressants and that is definitely a result of few other resources being available,” she commented, adding that there are many reasons for the long waiting lists including budget cuts.