Mental health has been in the news agenda a lot recently. With celebrities and journalists talking openly about it, the subject has become less taboo.
This got us thinking about whether the underfunded and stretched public mental health service has had an impact on demand for private mental health services. We analysed job request data for private counselors over the last two years, and discovered that demand has increased by 65%!
This is a huge increase, and it makes private counselling services the third fastest-growing category on Bark.com.
To find out why people are opting for private rather than NHS, we surveyed 2,129 counseling clients who booked through Bark.com and the results were eye-opening.
The most common conditions requiring treatment from a private counsellor through Bark.com are depression and anxiety, followed by eating disorders and then stress. Two thirds (65%) of the patients who booked a counsellor through Bark.com are women and more than half (55%) are between the age of 18 and 35 years old.
We analysed the data by region and found that London received the most ‘barks’ for counselling services, followed by Birmingham and then Liverpool. We also noted a 34% increase in demand for online counselling, where sessions are carried out over Skype or FaceTime.
77% of respondents said they booked a private mental healthcare professional because NHS mental health waiting lists are too long. 30% said they didn’t trust the service the NHS provides and 17% said they always book health services privately.
We spoke to one of our counselors to get some insight and this is what he said.
“I’ve treated hundreds of patients for mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, OCD and insomnia in my 30 year career. I used to work in the NHS a long time ago but left because I became disillusioned with the way it was being ran. Mental health has always been a ‘taboo’ subject, and consequently underserviced sector within medicine. I think because you can’t see physical illness people don’t consider it an illness, which is ludicrous.
“Within the last 10 years I have noticed a real increase in young people requesting my counseling. Before that the majority of my patients were 40+ suffering from severe stress and depression associated with work and lifestyle. I have to say it’s concerning. I often wonder whether young people have always suffered with mental health or whether this is a modern problem. From my experience it’s the latter, and we need to address it quickly.”
Kai Feller, co-founder of Bark.com said,
“We hadn’t anticipated just how many people are booking private counsellors through the site. It’s become one of the most in demand services on Bark.com now. This is great for counsellors on our site, but I think it shines a light on how the NHS mental health service is failing people when they need it.
“There will be thousands of people in the UK that can’t afford to pay privately for help. Hopefully our data will show the impact poor funding for NHS mental health services is having.”