New research on treating mental and physical health together shows it is better for patients.

According to the NHS, over 1.5 million people will be using mental health services each year by 2021. People with mental health problems often also have long-term conditions (LTCs). They could be conditions like diabetes, lung disease and heart problems.

Some of the services in the Oxford AHSN region (which includes Bucks) have lead the way in setting up joint treatments for patients with LTCs and mental illness. Psychological therapists work with experts in LTCs to give all-round treatment. These experts could be diabetic nurses or specialist physiotherapists, for example.

The evaluation of these services looked at over 450 people who were treated in this new combined way. It found that people who had this treatment:

  • Said they had fewer symptoms of anxiety and/or depression
  • Used fewer healthcare services
  • Will save the NHS an average of £1870 per patient over two years

Patient feedback

After my heart attack I was feeling chest pain and I was going to A&E and hospital but they said I was fine. Then I saw the Heart2Heart therapist and realised I was depressed. I’ve got a long way to go but I can get out of the house now and I am thinking of returning to work.

One of the biggest benefits of the group was the opportunity to meet other people living lives where every day they face the challenges of a long-term health condition. It’s been a huge encouragement.

I feel relieved now that I know how to manage my diabetes better.

I’ve got my bounce back. I’m a lot less angry. I’m a lot less tearful, and feeling much happier in myself.

Professionals’ feedback

We have seen excellent outcomes for patients accessing these joined up services including increased confidence, increased independence and an ability to manage disabling anxiety associated with breathlessness.

The benefits of integrated working are endless. Endless. When mental and physical health services work closely together and collaboratively, we have an accountable care system.

You can read the full article from the Oxford AHSN here.

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