In March, ARMA held a roundtable on mental health. We brought together people from the mental and MSK health sectors, both voluntary and statutory to hear presentations from Arthritis Action, NHS England’s Head of Mental Health, a patient perspective and the Haringey IAPT service.
IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) is designed to support people with depression and anxiety but has recently been rolled out to include long term conditions. In Haringey this includes MSK pain. People are offered a range of different psychological support such as individual Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), guided self help, groups, computerised CBT. They work closely with the hospital pain service to offer more intensive support if needed. They also work with community services, provide employment support if needed, and can refer to other services for support such as debt advice.
Some of the issues discussed at the meeting were the lack of training in mental health for physical health practitioners. Lack of knowledge, combined with lack of appropriate services to refer to, can make clinicians afraid to ask about mental health in case they are unable to deal with the issues raised. So many opportunities to talk about the psychological impact of a person’s MSK condition are missed.
Another big issue was the role of patient groups. Helplines and support groups are a vital part of the picture, providing support and time to talk, as well as advice from people who have been there themselves. Yet many people are unaware of the different patient groups who could support them.
The roundtable was the start of a conversation and will inform our work on mental health and MSK in the future. Look out for the report, which will be published soon, as well as for other activity to raise this vital issue.