Home Mental Health & Well-Being Moving from Mental Health Waiting Lists to Preparation Lists

Moving from Mental Health Waiting Lists to Preparation Lists

Published: Last updated:
Reading Time: 2 minutes

IAPT figures state that 88.8% of people start mentalhealth treatment within six weeks (June 2022). The trouble is that the follow-up appointments don’t always happen on a timely basis – meaning that mental health waiting lists are much longer than is being reported.

In 20202021, in most areas of England, patients seeking support for their mental health waited three times as long between their first and second treatments as they waited for their first treatment. The average waiting time for a first treatment was 21 days.

Now, after the delays and increase in demand following the pandemic, the actual numbers suggest that it’s around 69 months before people needing high-intensity talking therapy begin a course of treatment.

This gap is referred to as a hidden waiting list. What do those people seeking help do in the interim? What support is out there? At the moment, around 51% of referrals move to recovery. Will this longer wait cause that number to start to fall? Could there be a higher success rate if the gap between that first appointment and undergoing treatment was shorter?

Some forward-thinking NHS mental health services are now starting to seek to move to a process of better patient engagement during this waitlist period. There is a shift to shifting from waitlists to preparation lists – which can also help with effective management of the backlog in treatments. 

This piece will explore what a waiting list could be like that focuses on care, management, and active engagement rather than sitting tight. 


Wysa is a global leader in AI-driven mental health support, available to individuals and through employer benefits programs. It helps deal with stress, depression, and anxiety with the help of an emotionally intelligent bot, which uses evidence-based cognitive-behavioural techniques (CBT), meditation, breathing, and mindfulness exercises, as well as micro-actions to help users build mental resilience skills.

Wysa has facilitated over 100 million conversations in 65 countries across the globe. It’s currently being integrated into Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust services, effectively becoming a digital front door to both digital and therapist support.

A £1m RCT trial also being run at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust. The trial aims to provide clinical evidence that prescribing AI CBT at the point of referral reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd