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Report reveals a lack of mental health support for skin disease patients

23 September 2020

A new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Skin has found that 98 per cent of skin disease patients feel their condition affects their emotional and psychological wellbeing, and many are struggling to access appropriate treatment.

More than half of the 500 patients surveyed did not realise that specialist psychodermatology services are available for skin patients.

Evidence was collected in March and April 2020 from patients with a range of skin conditions, 100 clinicians, and 16 organisations operating in the field of dermatology. All of the organisations felt that NHS mental health provision for skin patients is either ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Overall, the survey found:

  • 93% of people with skin disease reported a negative impact on their self-esteem
  • 87% of people with skin disease reported a negative impact on their social life or leisure and sporting activity
  • 83% of people with skin disease reported a negative impact on their sleep
  • 73% of people with skin disease reported a negative impact on intimate relationships
  • 69% of people with skin disease reported a negative impact on their work or education
  • 5% of people with skin disease reported having suicidal thoughts
  • 100% of the 27 children who responded to the survey indicated that their skin condition affected their psychological wellbeing, and 85% felt they had low self-esteem
  • Of the children with low self-esteem, 85% reported this being particularly in relation to engaging with peers at school

Recommendations made include mandatory psychodermatology training, an increase in dermatology training numbers, and comprehensive dedicated psychodermatology services in each region of the UK.

Professor Andrew Thompson, Chartered Clinical/Health Psychologist, Clinical and NHS Advisor to the Parliamentary Group on Skin's expert committee said:

"Skin conditions are incredibly common and for many people there is an impact on wellbeing. Significant symptoms of anxiety and depression are reported by some patients.

In addition, both adults and children living with visible skin conditions often report experiencing bullying and discrimination".

This report draws on both existing research and new data collected by the group to provide politicians, commissioners, and NHS providers with a clear set of recommendations for addressing the woeful level of service provision in this area."

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