People who suffer with the skin condition psoriasis are more likely to suffer from axiety and depression, as a result a new report calls for the impact of life to be better recognised by politicians, the NHS and patients and their families.
The new report, Recognising the life impact of psoriasis, has unveiled an urgen need for multi-disciplinary care for people suffering with psoriasis.
For the first time the Psoriasis Association has collaborated with the Mental Health Foundation as part of the See Psoriasis: Look Deeper campaign, an initiative funded by an educational grant from Abbott.
Speaking to MPs from across the country, the collaboration together with patient groups and healthcare professionals, highlighted that the wider effects of psoriasis can go unrecognised by most.
Psoriasis is estimated to effect up to 1.8 million people in the UK, the multi-faceted nature of psoriasis means the psychological impact of the condition can be just as debilitating as the physical symptoms.
Approximately one third of psoriasis patients experience depression and anxiety, with 1 in 10 admitting to contemplating suicide. However, healthcare professionals tend to focus on the physical symptoms and often overlook asking patients about their psychological wellbeing.
Dr Christine Bundy, a member of the collaboration and Senior Lecturer in Behavioural Medicine at the University of Manchester says: ‘There is often a cyclical link between the physical and psychological impact of psoriasis. The condition can cause emotional distress and worry for sufferers which can trigger a psoriasis flare and impact on progression of psoriasis, so patients can often feel trapped in a despairing cycle as they try to cope with their condition. We need to do more to ensure we are looking out for psychological symptoms and providing people with the condition the full support they need to manage psoriasis.’
There is now more than ever, an opportunity to make a positive change for psoriasis patients via the NHS Commissioning Board’s guidance to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), NICE clinical guidance and Quality Standards and CCG referral pathways. With the cost of mental health services currently reaching £6.6 billion (National survey of investment in Adult Mental Health Services)5 – this is a figure that could be increased if psychological wellbeing of psoriasis patients is not addressed.
Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation adds: "The Mental Health Foundation has long called for the better integration of physical and mental health services. This includes routine assessment of the psychological needs of patients, in the light of the strong evidence of the inter-relationship and connection between physical health problems and mental health. It is essential that all staff supporting patients with a primary diagnosis of psoriasis are fully aware of the links between the two and are able to facilitate assessments and, where there is an assessed need, care and treatment that address all their health needs holistically".
The campaign also asks people with psoriasis to talk to their healthcare professional about the emotional impact psoriasis may be having on them, and to insist on help and support when needed.