People in the region with borderline personality and eating disorders are waiting an average of 12 to 18 months to start treatment at a specialist service, it has been revealed.
Hunter New England Health (HNEH) said its Centre for Psychotherapy was "the only public service of its kind in NSW", but fluctuations in demand meant "some patients may wait longer for treatment than others".
However, a HNEH spokeswoman said demand and waiting times had been reduced through community mental health teams implementing an eating disorders service plan.
A Newcastle man has raised concerns that his daughter faces up to an 18-month wait for treatment at the centre.
In her 20s and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, she has been on the waiting list for nine months and has now been told she won't receive treatment until the middle of next year, he said.
The man said he'd been told 28 people were on the waiting list at the centre, based at James Fletcher Hospital in Newcastle.
People suffering from her disorder often have a history of childhood abuse and trauma, and he said it was "unbearable to know these people can't get help within a reasonable timeframe".
He said he wondered why there wasn't enough government funding to help people sooner, given the increased focus on mental health in recent years.
HNEH did not comment on the number of people on the waiting list but said it had been reduced through the service plan.
Mental health service general manager Leanne Johnson said: "Clinicians in community mental health teams are providing treatment to people with eating disorders, who would have previously required referral to [the] Centre for Psychotherapy."
"This change, which occurred in April 2018, has seen a reduction in waiting times ...
"Patients waiting for treatment through the centre are supported by our community mental health teams, general and private practitioners and community-managed organisations."
The Newcastle Herald reported last year that the waiting list at the Centre for Psychotherapy was nine to 12 months.
It provides a "specialist, outpatient, assessment and long-term treatment service for people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and those with eating disorders".
"The centre offers an intensive 12-month program for those that require therapy and accepts patients from across the Hunter and New England regions," Ms Johnson said.
"While the centre mainly accepts adult patients, young people may also be referred for treatment where appropriate."
Ms Johnson said the NSW government was "investing a record $2.1 billion in mental health services and infrastructure in 2018-19" - an increase of $104 million from the previous financial year.
The father said: "Let's put this extra money to good use and reduce the waiting list by opening another centre and/or employing more trained clinicians in psychotherapy".
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