3rd July 2019
Mental Health Consensus Statement launched
Today, the Neurological Alliance is launching our mental health consensus statement. The statement outlines what every person with a neurological condition should be able to expect in terms of treatment and care for their mental, cognitive, and emotional health. The document, aimed at policy makers, also makes a number of recommendations about what needs to happen to get there.
The need for people to have their mental, cognitive and emotional health properly looked after is particularly important given that neurological conditions relate to the brain and nervous system. So, changes in the brain can directly affect a person’s emotions, and the way they think, reason or remember. Similarly, people’s mental health difficulties can trigger their neurological condition. Sometimes it isn’t clear whether a particular symptom is mental (psychological) or physical (organic) in origin.
Mental health is so important for those living with Motor Neurone Disease, with 10-15% having a variant of the condition resulting in Frontal-Temporal Dementia, and up to 50% having recognised cognitive change. MND is a rapidly progressive disease, resulting in constant loss – loss of ability to move, to breathe, and so the further loss of cognitive function only compounds the devastating affects of this disease. By launching our consensus statement we hope that awareness is raised significantly and appropriate pathways of care introduced so that all those living with MND and their families and carers can access the support they need at the time that they need it as their disease progresses.
Deputy Director of Care, Motor Neurone Disease Association.
Neurological Alliance Mental Health Subgroup Member
We believe that people with neurological conditions too often don’t have their mental wellbeing properly looked after. Being diagnosed with a neurological condition can be a huge blow, and sometimes people need help to cope with the impact of the diagnosis. But too many don’t have their mental wellbeing addressed during this period of adjustment. Similarly, as time goes on and people experience pain or discomfort due to their condition, and face difficulties in daily life, they may need some help to stay (or get) mentally well. For people with a terminal neurological condition, the need can be particularly acute as they approach the end of their lives.
This mental health consensus statement builds on our 2017 Parity of Esteem report. It makes the case for more action by the NHS, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, neurology health professionals, and others to help improve mental, emotional and cognitive health services and support for people with neurological conditions. It makes the case for improved mental, cognitive and emotional health treatments, that are appropriately tailored, and properly coordinated with people’s physical health treatments.
By setting out what needs to happen, our mental health statement provides us with a focus for our influencing work going forward. We’re actively supporting the work of the National Neuro Advisory Group in looking at how the barriers to improved support can be overcome. We’re also making the case for neurology to be chosen as a ‘test bed’ for initiatives aiming to improve the mental health of people with pre-existing health conditions.
We believe people with neurological conditions deserve better mental health treatments, and will keep working to make this happen, until it does.