The emotional, cognitive and mental health needs of those with neurological conditions should be considered just as important as their physical needs, argues our Policy and Public Affairs Manager for England Duncan Lugton.
In a joint report published last week, we argued that the needs of people with neurological conditions are not given enough priority within the English health system.
This is especially true when it comes to the emotional, cognitive and mental health needs of people with neurological conditions. For too long, the mental health needs of people with neurological conditions have been overlooked.
We are helping to change this. A new report, entitled Parity of Esteem for People affected by Neurological Conditions: Meeting the emotional, cognitive and mental health needs of neurology patients and published today by the Neurological Alliance, aims to put the issue 'on the map'.
The report sets out the nature and scope of the emotional, cognitive and mental health needs of people with neurological conditions, looks at the services that exist at the moment, asks what services should look like and concludes by making recommendations on what needs to change in the future.
Contributing our frontline experience
At Sue Ryder, we were part of the steering group that drafted and developed this report. This means I got to feed in not only my own thoughts and ideas, but also some of the wisdom and insight I have gained from speaking to our staff about these issues.
This is one of my favourite parts of the job – talking to people who have frontline experience of care always teaches me something new, and makes my policy work richer and more insightful.
Thanks to these conversations with our frontline staff, I learned a number of things about the links between neurological conditions and mental health that I was able to feed into the report.
I learned how the communication challenges connected to some neurological conditions can:
- make it harder to identify people’s emotional, cognitive and mental health needs in the first place
- increase the risk of people withdrawing socially (e.g. if they feel it is too difficult or too tiring to communicate), which can have a range of knock-on consequences
- change what kind of interventions might be most appropriate to help that person, and how they should be delivered.
I hope this report can put the emotional, cognitive and mental health needs of people with neurological conditions 'on the map' and that, in the future, this set of needs will be thought of as readily as people’s physical needs.
Policy and Public Affairs Manager (England)