Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, congratulates the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) on the publication of their new report advocating for more mental health provisions for people living with long term debilitating illnesses.
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) launch their landmark survey in early November, it calls for mental health reforms in the healthcare industry, particularly for those who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Adult Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (AJIA).
The survey, published in conjunction with City, University of London, sheds light on the lack of psychological support offered to help manage the anxiety, depression and low mood that result from being diagnosed with these diseases. 2,000 individuals who have RA and AJIA took part in the survey, which concluded that there were various factors that contributed to this lack of support.
- 2 in 5 people had never been asked by their health professional about their psychological health while 1 in 3 people who had requested or been offered support never received it.
- 50% of respondents with RA and 1 in 3 with AJIA who had clinical levels of depression or anxiety had not received psychological support from their healthcare provider during visits.
- People with RA and AJIA are less satisfied with their life, believed the things in their life were less worthwhile and were less happy. The proportion of people who scored poorly on life satisfaction and life worth was over 7 times greater in those with RA and AJIA than the national average.
Speaking from Westminster, Nigel Evans said:
“This fantastic report published by the NRAS shows a real correlation between having Rheumatoid Arthritis and having mental health problems. It exhibits case studies of real people who suffer from the condition and provides conclusive evidence linking the RA to mental health problems, most importantly, it offers solutions to ease the problem.”
“I have been contacted by several constituents who are affected by RA and have heard first-hand their experience of living with the condition. I am fully supportive of the report and its recommendations and hope the Health Secretary agrees that this is an incredibly important issue that needs urgent attention.”
Ailsa Bosworth MBE, CEO of NRAS said “We’ve known for many years that anxiety and depression are common co-morbidities in RA. This report brings new data to light, especially for adults with JIA, and helps us to understand how people with RA and JIA can be better supported psychologically”.
The survey also revealed that the majority of healthcare professionals recognise that providing psychological support to people with these conditions is part of their role but rate their overall provision as inadequate. Healthcare professionals report that the reasons they are unable to provide psychological support include a lack of time, a lack of trained clinicians and available training and the costs of delivering these types of services.
In response to this, NRAS has outlined recommendations to implement into current rheumatology care pathways that include the regular measurement of mental health in people diagnosed with RA and AJIA and ensuring NHS Trusts have adequate resources to upskill staff to provide specialist psychological interventions, such as CBT.
NRAS hopes that this survey will encourage healthcare professionals to implement new mental health support strategies in their RA and AJIA care pathways to address this often-overlooked aspect of living with these conditions.