Two-thirds of people with a common mental health problem also have a long-term physical health condition, greatly increasing the pain they are in and the cost of their care.
By integrating psychological therapy with physical health services, the NHS can provide a more efficient support to this group of people and achieve better outcomes. For instance, Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust has developed a course combining physical and mental health care to help patients deal with chronic pain. By offering techniques to manage and reduce physical pain, this course also helps patients stay active and improve their mental wellbeing.
Gemma experienced lower back pain and sciatica after suffering a herniated disc. Absent from work through injury, and spending long periods at home managing her condition, meant Gemma became, in her own words, “down and despondent”.
She heard about the Living Well with Back Pain Course through her employer and decided to try it.
Says Gemma: “The course gets you to think about the different areas of your life – from getting up in the morning to going to bed at night, and even the sleep in between. It puts you back in control. The course focuses on techniques to reduce pain, rather than take it away – to get ideas for how we could better cope with the pain we have.”
Supported by dual-trained specialists, the course combines psychological therapy with physical health services to help patients remain active and prevent frailty as they move towards old age.