ADHD advocates shocked at lack of psychological support from government

ADHD advocates are calling on the government to offer more psychological support for patients.

It comes as research reveals the number of people being prescribed medication for the disorder has doubled in ten years.

It took Karen Gillespie and her husband Trevor months to get their kids, Liam and Josh, diagnosed with ADHD.

They were shocked to discover no psychological help on offer, just medication.

"There was nothing available. The teenage years I'm really dreading," Karen says.

"How are we going to get my boys through it if we're struggling now?"

So Karen started the Wellington ADHD Parent Support Group, which now has about 20 families.

And she spent thousands on a private child psychologist.

"We're lucky to be in that situation. People with low income, people on benefits - I really don't know how they get the support they need," she adds.

ADHD NZ chair Darrin Bull says the support just isn't there.

"Families who have an autistic or ADHD child are in crisis, their extended families are in crisis, the schools are in crisis. And there is no one really there to help."

From 2007 to 2017, those under 24 being prescribed ADHD medication almost doubled to 996 per 100,000 people.

Advocates say there should be more focus on psychological support in the public health system.

But they warn that could be difficult.

"Finding clinical psychologists can be particularly hard at the moment, and that's because we have a national shortage," says clinical psychologist Dr Sarah Watson.

The Ministry of Health says ADHD assessment and treatment, including psychological support, is available by referral.

It is analysing the demand for psychologists and says its increased clinical psychology internships this year.

As for Karen, she's hoping for more support by the time Liam and Josh are teenagers.