People who live with a long-term physical condition - such as diabetes, arthritis or asthma – are seven times more likely to experience mental ill-health conditions, including depression and anxiety.
On World Mental Health Day, we look at how Derbyshire-based charity DRCS is supporting those with long term conditions who often risk social isolation, low self-esteem, stigma and discrimination, and finding ways to help those living with mental and physical conditions.
Living with physical and mental health issues
More than 15 million people - 30 percent of the UK population - live with one or more long-term conditions, according to the Department of Health, and more than four million also have a mental health problem.
Evidence demonstrates those with a long-term condition are two or three times more likely to develop mental ill-health. People with two or more long-term conditions are seven times more likely to experience depression than those without any long-term conditions according to the World Health Survey.
Self employed counsellor, Jackie Rogers, who assists in running the organisation’s Long Term Conditions group in Derby as part of Talking Mental Health Derbyshire, describes how they are helping people living with a long-term physical condition tackle mental health issues in a positive way.
She said: “People who live with a long-term physical condition - such as diabetes, arthritis or asthma – are more likely to develop mental ill-health problems, such as low mood, stress, depression and anxiety.
“Long-term physical conditions which can’t be cured, only managed, often come with a risk of social isolation, low self-esteem, stigma and discrimination. This can easily give way to a mental health condition if support isn’t available.
“Many people experience a grief for their old self and denial in accepting what problems they have, which can lead to feelings of failure. Its all about understanding what you have now, similar to a bereavement process, and not being afraid to ask for help.
“Simply put, the sessions can mean you leave the house, meet other people and interact with them. That in itself can be a positive and make people feel less alone or isolated.
“Living with both physical and mental ill-health is incredibly damaging to people’s lives. It can be much harder to manage a physical condition if you’re also coping with depression.
“It is widely acknowledged that improved mental health can actually reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases which can also become long-term conditions.”
If you have a long-term health problem and would like to learn more about managing life with the condition contact DRCS on 01332 344435 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What the groups talk about
Coming to terms with having a long term condition – talking about how people found out about their condition, the grief cycle, making sense of and understanding their condition.
The five steps to mental well-being - connecting with the people around you; making an enjoyable activity part of your life; learning new skills for a sense of achievement and confidence; small acts of giving and kindness and being mindful by being more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.
Living with pain – pain management, coping mechanisms, understanding pain, vulnerability and relaxation.
Fatigue – understanding fatigue and its different types, what makes people fatigued and sleep routines .
Relationships – those close to you including family and friends, health professionals, communication and guilt.
Living with a long term condition – day to day, stress, anxiety and depression, medication, self care and relapse, medical courses and seasonal variations.
Outcomes of group therapy
Research by DRCS has already shown that attendees to the LTC groups have reported:
Feeling less depressed;
Having less suicidal thoughts everyday;
An openness to access other types of help;
Feeling less isolated;
Referring regularly to the information folder provided;
An ability to better understand and accept their physical and mental health conditions;
Course attendees commonly report they understand how to manage their conditions better, felt listened to and understood by the therapists and other group members. They also feel they have tools to help move them forward and feel more relaxed.
Come and have a chat
DRCS and Talking Mental Health Derbyshire launched its first groups for people with long term conditions in 2017 and is running further sessions in 2018 and 2019.
Courses run for six weeks on Thursdays from 1-3pm on specific dates at DRCS’s office at Probate House at St Mary’s Gate in Derby and at DRCS’s Chesterfield base at 6-8 Corporation Street with qualified therapists.
The group is open to anyone over 16 years.
Jackie Rogers said: “We need a group environment to get the most benefit from the sessions.
“We make sure people feel as comfortable as possible – if you want to sit, or walk round that’s OK. We have regular breaks over the two hour period and get to know all the attendees and you can contribute or just listen, it’s up to you.”
For further information contact DRCS on 0800 047 6861.
Fusion to blend physical and mental health
A number of DRCS’ cognitive behavioural therapists are participating in a two year pilot scheme across Derbyshire.
They say that talking therapies for long term conditions becoming an integral part of the public health agenda is a huge positive.
Therapist Will Meredith said: “There is increasing research on how physical care and mental health care are connected and an increasing call on the healthcare sector to consider psychological well-being when treating the physical symptoms of a condition and vice versa.
“Fusion, which is being offered by a number of psychological therapies service providers in Derbyshire, offers Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for those with long term conditions including diabetes, COPD and asthma.
“There is lots of good evidence that talking therapies can be extremely effective in helping manage day to day life with a long-term condition. It’s about helping with any psychological aspect of how your life has been affected by your diagnosis.”
Where can you find DRCS?
DRCS offers services across the whole county. It operates from its own bases in Bakewell, Belper, Derby, Chesterfield, Alfreton and Long Eaton and uses a range of premises including NHS centres, and GP