Diabetes UK has found that almost a quarter of areas in England have gaps in integrated physical and mental health services, leaving thousands of people unable to find support as a result of where they live.
Research has shown that people who have long term health conditions, such as diabetes, are more likely to experience mental health issues than the general population. Last year, NHS England issued a statement which outlined its expectation that all areas of England would set up mental health services to integrate mental and physical healthcare for people with long-term medical conditions.
These services are known as Improving Access to Psychological Therapies for People with Long-term Physical Health Conditions and Medically Unexplained Symptoms (IAPT-LTC) services and guidance was given by NHS England for setting up and expanding these services. The timeline outlined in NHS guidance stated that these services were meant to be in place by April of this year.
However, Diabetes UK recently requested information from Clinical Commissioning Groups across England on their progress with these services and found that many areas had not established these services. 23% of areas reported that they did not have or were unable to confirm having established integrated services.
Helen Kirrane, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Diabetes UK said ‘Mental and physical health are intrinsically linked, and failing to treat mental health problems and long term health conditions together can have a devastating impact on a person’s overall health and quality of life. Every area should be providing integrated support to make it easier for people to look after their physical health and get the right support for their mental health’. Diabetes UK has begun a campaign called ‘It’s missing’ which aims to address the lack of mental health support for people with diabetes and calls for UK health services to create national standards for mental health support in diabetes care.