As the UK health system struggles to cope with ever-increasing demand, more people than ever are seeking medical diagnoses for conditions such as ADHD and autism.
Huge increase in online searches
There has been a staggering 900% increase in searches related to private autism and ADHD assessment in the last three months, with Google searches peaking at 100 per day, shedding light on the pressing need to improve access and efficiency in assessment services.
According to Brain in Hand, the digital innovation healthcare company is urgently calling for transformative change to address the growing backlog of autism assessments.
Recent data collected by Brain in Hand highlights the escalating demand and the challenges faced by autistic individuals in obtaining timely assessments, with many having to wait longer than two years for an official evaluation and diagnosis.
This is even more pressing as some local health and care partnerships are removing access to autism and ADHD assessment for adults due to the lack of resources. People are looking online for support and guidance with search terms such as ‘high functioning autism’ and ‘stimming’ growing by over 5000% during the past three months.
A Broken System
In addition to the current backlog – predicted to reach 190,000 by 2024 – the increased reliance on private assessments is a symptom of a broken system. Brain in Hand acknowledges the urgency of transforming how people access services and how those services are delivered.
To shine a light on autistic voices within the community, Brain in Hand partnered with the Autism Shows, the national event for autism, which took place across the country and provided a platform for autistic people to share their lived experiences and challenges in accessing support.
According to Dr. Louise Morpeth, CEO of Brain in Hand.
“It’s impossible to hear so many stories about people’s lives and not feel incredibly motivated to try to make things better. Our mission is to improve autism support and improve the lives of autistic individuals and those living with neurological differences or mental health difficulties.
Record wait times for diagnosis and the soaring demand for private assessments underscore the need for immediate action. We believe that a transformative change is essential to revolutionizing access to services, and digital solutions like Brain in Hand can play a crucial role in changing how that support is accessed, helping to ensure better outcomes.”
Waiting times for medical treatment are at their longest ever in the UK. Indeed, the waiting times for mental health support are also on an upward trajectory, as reported by My Mind News previously. This latest news from Barin In Hand will therefore come as no surprise to anyone seeking advice or guidance for ADHD or autism who might be struggling to cope in the meantime.
While online self-diagnosis has become far more prevalent since COVID-related lockdowns (when people could not access their usual medical support services), this also shows a worrying trend. Self-diagnosis can and should never replace professional medical or psychotherapy support, yet with an ongoing lack of funding in these areas, this trend is unlikely to be reversed any time soon.
Have you relied on the internet to diagnose yourself with a mental health condition? Are you struggling to find professional support for your mental health? Let us know in the comments.