According to the mental health champion for Northern Ireland, health care providers are finding it difficult to handle the demand from patients who are in serious, immediate distress.
Since 2018, a significant increase in the number of people who have been on mental health waiting lists for longer than nine weeks.
More psychologists and psychiatrists are required, according to Prof. Siobhan O'Neill.
Regarding Northern Ireland's 10-year mental health strategy, she added that "difficult decisions" needed to be made.
She revealed service providers had frequently told her they lacked the staff or resources necessary to deliver effective care while speaking to BBC NI's Good Morning Ulster.
She said that they are having a "really, really difficult time keeping up with the demand and the increase in referrals of people who are in significant distress right now.".
The facilities they have are also subpar. Consequently, the entire system needs to be changed. ".
The Department of Health has reported that over the last four years, waiting lists for mental health services have gotten longer in Northern Ireland.
Between December 2018 and December 2022, the number of young people who had to wait more than nine weeks to access the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) more than tripled, from 364 to 1,269 in total.
In comparison to 1,579 patients in December 2018, there were 2,394 patients in December 2022 who were waiting more than nine weeks to access adult mental health services.
There are numerous instances of people who have benefited from the services offered, but Professor O'Neill expressed concern about the waiting lists.
"We need to ensure that those who are waiting lists receive care and assistance as soon as possible, and the appropriate kind of assistance so they aren't shuttled from pillar to post. ".
Annie, a mother of two, claimed that while mental illness is undertreated, watching her children suffer has also had a negative impact on her own mental health.
After having a breakdown, her daughter was taken to the hospital.
They released her despite my pleading with them not to, she claimed.
After unsuccessful suicide attempts, her son and daughter have both spent some time on waiting lists for services.
According to her, those waiting lists "kill as many people as most diseases, probably more so.".
By the time you actually wait and receive services, the problem is that after they have disclosed their trauma and opened up, there may be a new counsellor there, she continued.
It's terrible for them to have to recount, relive, and recount.
On a motorcycle, it serves the same purpose as an ashtray. ".
Figures from the Department of Health (DoH) show that as of December 2022, 2,940 people had been waiting more than 13 weeks for psychological treatments. It was 1,923 in December 2018.
The department stated in a statement that its goal was for no patient to have to wait more than 13 weeks to access psychological therapies and no patient should have to wait longer than nice weeks to access CAMHS, adult mental health services, or dementia services. .
Prof. O'Neill stated that the second year of the mental health strategy will require £24 million despite budget cuts.
Initially released in 2021 by Robin Swann, who was the Health Minister at the time.
For the long-term reform of services, it outlined 35 actions, including early interventions and making sure people receive "the right support at the right time.".
However, Prof. O'Neill stated: "At this time, it is uncertain whether that funding will be made available. ".
Although more people are obtaining support privately, she claimed that many of them cannot afford it.
She said that because of poverty, hardship, and adversity, those who need mental health services the most are also the ones least able to pay for them.
When compared to the least depressed areas, suicide rates are twice as high in the most depressed areas.
"We do need the full 10-year strategy; that's the only thing that will actually alter the course of events in the future. ".
Information about organizations that can help can be found on the if you or someone you know has been impacted by any of the problems discussed in this article. the BBC Action Line website.