Over 50 charities have appealed to the Government to help improve access to mental health services for people with neurological conditions.
The charities have written to Steven Barclay, Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Care, to appeal for steps to be taken to support individuals and families with their mental health.
The letter, backed by charities including UKABIF, the Neurological Alliance, Huntington’s Disease Association, Motor Neurone Disease Association and The Brain Charity, calls for:
- reviewed eligibility criteria for NHS Mental Health Trusts
- specialist training and support to clinicians
- more specialist mental health staff and services for people living with neurological conditions
The theme of today, World Mental Health Day, is ‘Mental health is a universal human right’.
“However, this right is being denied to some because of the type of condition they live with,” says the letter.
One in six people in the UK live with a neurological condition, and more than 81 per cent of people said their condition affected their mental wellbeing, a survey by the Neurological Alliance revealed.
“Despite this commonality, many are being denied access to mental health services and this is happening across the country,” the letter states.
“Even if a person with a neurological condition experiences common mental health issues – such as anxiety or depression – clinicians may not refer them for mental health services simply because of the nature of their illness and some who are referred are refused access.”
In the same survey, 60 per cent of respondents said their mental wellbeing had not been asked about by a health or social care professional within the last three years.
Furthermore, a recent survey of healthcare professionals by the Huntington’s Disease Association found that 60 per cent of patients were denied access to mental health services because of having Huntington’s disease.
Of those who were denied access to mental health services, over a quarter of respondents said this was because Huntington’s disease is a neurological condition/organic brain disorder. Over a fifth said it was because the disease is not seen as a condition with mental health symptoms.
These findings align with those of the Neurological Alliance, where in their Neurological Patient Experience Survey 2021, 61 per cent of respondents said they would have found counselling helpful, but it had not been offered as a treatment.
Similarly, 62 per cent would have found neuropsychiatry helpful but it had not been offered to them.
The charities conclude: “We are keen to ensure that this is stopped. Neurological conditions often have both physical and mental symptoms and limiting patient access to mental health services is worsening mental health.
“Those denied access to services are more likely to end up in crisis situations – such as emergency hospital admissions, being sectioned or are at increased risk of harm to themselves or others.”
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