A Perth ADHD advocacy group says a shortage of psychiatrists in WA is causing significant delays in diagnosing and treating the disorder.
ADHD or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a mental health condition that includes a combination of problems such as difficulty paying attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity.
ADHD WA Chair Michele Toner expresses that delays mean people could be waiting months between their referrals from GPs to their initial consultations with psychiatrists to receive a diagnosis.
She says the shortage is very troubling for those seeking a diagnosis before treatment can begin.
“There is a serious shortage of psychiatrists in Western Australia who are able to help diagnose and treat ADHD. It is causing stress among individuals who are desperately seeking help,” Dr Toner explains.
Cabernet entertainer Kat Nelson, who goes by the stage name Cece Desist, started seeking a diagnosis of ADHD about a decade ago and was only diagnosed roughly around two years ago.
“I spoke to a GP to get a referral, but once I learned how expensive the initial consultation was, I put it off for seven years,” she says. “Around 28, I was in a financial spot where I could bite the bullet and find out for myself.”
The process to see a psychiatrist for Kat took about six months in waiting through the WA public system before switching to the private system where it took a further two months. On top of the waiting period, the costs to get the diagnosis were high.
On average, a single session with a psychiatrist to seek an ADHD diagnosis costs patients anywhere between $500 and $600.
Once an ADHD diagnosis has been confirmed, patients must then continue to visit a psychiatrist in order to continue receiving prescriptions for dextroamphetamine.
For some, additional psychology sessions may be required to ensure the ADHD diagnosis is correct, meaning an additional cost of $120 to $350 per session to see a psychologist.
But for many people like Kat, the expense of an ADHD diagnosis is the main reason they do not get diagnosed.