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BPS News

New guidance on supporting people with neurodegenerative conditions

29 January 2021

New BPS guidance, published today, provides psychologists (and other health professionals) with evidence-based recommendations for providing psychological support to people living with four motor neurodegenerative conditions: Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis.

Following a review of the current literature the guidance gives evidence of the effectiveness of psychological interventions for each neurodegenerative condition. It also categorises these by type of psychological outcome and by type of psychological intervention.

‘Psychological interventions for people with Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis’ is the result of Minds & Movement, a joint initiative developed by health researchers from Lancaster University, the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology, and the BPS Faculty for the Psychology of Older People (FPOP), and endorsed by the Division of Neuropsychology.

Jane Simpson, Professor of the Psychology of Neurodegenerative Conditions at Lancaster University and co-author (with Dr Fiona Eccles and Dr Nicolò Zarotti) of the guidelines, said:

“We are delighted that this guidance is now available and are extremely grateful to all those health professionals and groups and charities supporting individuals living with these conditions for sharing their own work and patient experiences.

While we are able to make some useful recommendations regarding what therapies can be effective for different psychological difficulties, we have also been struck by both the lack of research, especially for people with motor neurone disease and Huntington’s disease, and the lack of accessible psychological services for many in the UK.

We hope that our guidelines will add to the voices of patients and supporting associations for more funded research and more support for these essential psychological services.

Living with the physical challenges of these conditions is undoubtedly difficult but we also need to make sure we are looking to support the mental health and well-being of the hundreds of thousands of individuals in the UK affected by these conditions.”

Georgina Carr, Chief Executive of The Neurological Alliance, said:

“We have been very pleased to play a small role in supporting this incredibly important guidance.

At the Neurological Alliance we have long known that too many people with neurological conditions aren’t having their mental health needs adequately served by the existing set of services and support.

Not only does this set of recommendations provide invaluable guidance for psychologists and allied professions on how best to work with people with the named conditions, but it also shines a light on the need for further research in this area.”

The guidance is free to download and will help psychologists, and other health professionals, who work people with these conditions.

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