Psychological support waning for heart patients despite nearly half experiencing mental health issues

Posted on September 5, 2014

Photo: flickr

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is calling for urgent improvements to the mental health support offered to heart patients after an audit of cardiac rehabilitation schemes - exercise and education programmes to help people recover from a heart attack or heart surgery - revealed fewer than one in ten now provides access to a psychologist.

Research shows that up to 20% of people who've suffered a serious heart event, such as a heart attack, will have a major depressive episode within a few weeks and a further 25% experience minor depression or depressive symptoms.

Yet the proportion of cardiac rehabilitation services offering specialist mental health support has nearly halved since 2009/10, falling from just 16% to a paltry 9%.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said: "Suffering a heart attack, or discovering you have a heart condition, is understandably distressing as it can have such a huge impact on the way you're able to live your life.

"It's no longer enough to send someone home from hospital with a bag of medication to treat their physical symptoms. They need - and deserve - much more holistic support this includes treatment and care for their mental health too."

The BHF wants everyone who's had a heart attack or heart surgery to benefit from a cardiac rehabilitation programme that includes psychological support.

Currently just 43% of eligible patients take part in any rehab programme, and only 9% of programmes offer mental health services. This means only a tiny minority are offered truly holistic healthcare to help them recover.

This is despite efforts by the Government to more formally recognise the need and value of mental health services within the NHS Constitution and NHS Mandate.

Dr Knapton said: "There's a gap between the Government's topline strategy documents and what's happening on the ground. We need local commissioners and service providers to understand the value in mental health support for heart patients."

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Category(s):Adult psychological development, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mental Health in Asia

Source material from Medical News Today