New mental health services for people with long-term physical illnesses

30th December 2016

Mental health care is to be offered to 30,000 people with long-term physical health problems, including heart disease, NHS England announced this week.

Many people with on-going physical health problems suffer from anxiety and depression and have symptoms including chronic fatigue. Cardiomyopathy UK has been campaigning for mental health services to be integrated into the care of people with cardiomyopathy.

Now NHS England says it will provide £31 million to fund integrated services in 30 parts of the country over the next two years.  Where these are have not been specified on NHS England’s website. Local health managers can also apply for an extra £20m to fund further services of this type.

The money will pay for trainee therapists and experienced clinicians, many of whom will be based in GP surgeries, and will fund more training for therapists running support groups for people with long-term illnesses.

Starting in January, the first wave of services will focus on diabetes and lung and heart diseases, with support also offered to people with cancer and unexplained symptoms.

A pilot by NHS England showed that treating people’s physical and mental health problems in a joined up way can lead to improvements in people’s mental health and at least 20 per cent lower physical healthcare costs.

Professor Tim Kendall, NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health, said: “England is almost unique in providing easy access to effective psychological treatments for anxiety and depression in primary care. But there are many people with long-term physical health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, who also suffer from depression and anxiety, which mainly goes untreated and makes their physical health worse.

“The new services are a first step to us reaching more and more of these people.”

For more details, see here.