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Mental health services for people with long term health conditions missing from too many areas – FOI reveals

It's missing

We are calling for integrated mental and physical health services in every area.

A postcode lottery is preventing thousands of people with long term health conditions and mental health problems from getting the support they need, because of where they live.

This was revealed after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by us.

Research has shown that people with a long term physical health condition, such as diabetes, are two to three times more likely to experience mental or emotional health problems such as anxiety or depression, than the general population.

To address this issue NHS England asked all local areas to set up mental health services – called Improving Access to Psychological Therapies for People with Long-term Physical Health Conditions and Medically Unexplained Symptoms (IAPT-LTC). These set out to help people living with long term conditions by April 2019. It was then up to local decision makers to make the necessary service provision in their areas.

Gaps in support

However, our FOI request to all Clinical Commissioning Groups in England has found that, despite resources and guidance being made available by the NHS all over the country, these services aren’t yet provided in all areas. Almost a quarter of areas (23%) in England do not have, or could not confirm that they had these services in place.  

This means there are gaps in support for people who really need it. 

In diabetes, mental and physical health have a two-way relationship. While the demands of living with the condition can affect how people feel, struggling emotionally can make it even more difficult to keep on top of self-management. And when diabetes cannot be well managed, the risk of dangerous complications increases.

We are calling for every area to ensure they’re meeting the specific needs of people with diabetes, by committing to provide these basic, vital services.

Helen Kirrane, our Head of Policy and Campaigns, said: 

"Mental and physical health are intrinsically linked, and failing to treat mental health problems and long term health conditions together can have a devastating impact on a person’s overall health and quality of life. 

"Every area should be providing integrated support to make it easier for people to look after their physical health and get the right support for their mental health."

Join our campaign

We campaigned make sure people living with diabetes get the emotional and mental health support they need. Find out more about combined mental health support and diabetes care, and what you can do to make these services available in your area with our it's missing campaign.

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