A Newcastle man has raised concerns that his daughter faces an 18-month wait for treatment at Hunter New England Health's Centre for Psychotherapy.
The man said his daughter, who is in her 20s, had been diagnosed with "borderline personality disorder".
People suffering from this disorder often but not always have a history of childhood abuse and trauma - sexual, physical or emotional.
The man's daughter had been on the waiting list for nine months. She was initially told to expect a wait of about 12 months, but she's now been told she won't receive treatment until the middle of next year. This would mean a wait of 18 months.
Hunter New England Health said patients wait, on average, 12 to 18 months to begin the program.
"As demand for the service fluctuates, some patients may wait longer for treatment than others," said Hunter New England mental health service general manager Leanne Johnson.
"Patients waiting for treatment through the centre are supported by our community mental health teams, general and private practitioners and community-managed organisations."
The father said these support programs were "news to me".
He said borderline personality disorder put his daughter in "a constant state of conflict" with herself.
"She has a continuing feeling of not being good enough," he said.
A psychiatrist had told him that medication would not treat the disorder and "only psychotherapy will treat that".
The Newcastle Herald reported last year that the waiting list at the Centre for Psychotherapy was nine to 12 months.
With his daughter facing an 18-month wait, the father was concerned that the waiting list appears to have worsened. He was also concerned for others. He was told 28 people were on the waiting list at the centre, which is based at James Fletcher Hospital in Newcastle.
The links between the disorder and childhood abuse made the Hunter waiting list for psychotherapy particularly hard to accept.
"It's unbearable to know these people can't get help within a reasonable timeframe," the father said.
He wondered why there wasn't enough government funding to help people sooner, given the increased focus on mental health in recent years.
Hunter New England Health did not comment on the number of people on the waiting list. However, it said the Centre for Psychotherapy was "the only public service of its kind in NSW".
This service provided 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 added that Hunter New England Health had established the "Eating Disorders Service Plan".
"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."
In a statement released for Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week, University of Newcastle Professor of Mental Health Nursing Mike Hazelton said the lifespan of a person with borderline personality disorder was "almost two decades less than other Australians".
"Ten per cent of people with borderline personality disorder will die by suicide," Professor Hazelton said.
He added that it was a complex mental disorder with sufferers experiencing symptoms including "emotional distress, self-harm and difficulty relating to others and the world around them".
"Between 2 per cent and 5 per cent of Australians are affected by borderline personality disorder at some stage."
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".
Lifeline: 13 11 14.