An online services marketplace has reported a 48% increase in demand for private counselling services in Manchester, after reports show that mental health trusts in England received less funding in 2016/17 than in 2012. interrogated its internal data and noticed that demand for private counsellors has risen by 65% since 2016. The site now has more than 10,400 counsellors across the UK, who work with more than 50,000 patients on improving their mental health.

The site anonymously surveyed 2,129 counselling patients who booked through the site, and discovered that more than three quarters (77%) did so because NHS mental health waiting lists are too long.

Just less than a third (30%) said they didn’t trust the service the NHS provides and almost a fifth (17%) said they always book health services privately.

Analysis by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) in 2017 showed that the income of mental health trusts in England is lower than it was six years ago once inflation is taken into account*. The total amount of income that mental health trusts in England received in 2016-17 was £11.829bn – £105m lower than in 2011-12 at today’s prices.7

In England, 62% of mental health trusts reported a lower income at the end of 2016-17 than they had in 2011-12. According to official figures, only one trust saw its funding rise in five consecutive financial years.

A separate report by NHS providers states that people in a mental health crisis receive inadequate care for conditions such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders.** analysed its data by region and found that London received the most ‘barks’ or bookings for counselling services, followed by Birmingham and then Liverpool. also noted a 34% increase in demand for online counselling, where sessions are carried out over Skype or FaceTime.

The most common conditions requiring treatment from a private counsellor through are depression and anxiety, followed by eating disorders and then stress. Two thirds (65%) of the patients who booked a counsellor through are women and more than half (55%) are between the age of 18 and 35 years old.

Kai Feller, co-founder of 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 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.”


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