New report calls for changes in neurological mental health care

A new report released today (24 July) shows that people with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s, struggle to access effective mental health care that meets their needs.

This can have a devastating impact on their quality of life. Patient surveys show that many people with neurological conditions regularly rate the physical care they receive higher than their mental health care.

In the Neurological Alliance 2019 patient experience survey, 58% of people with a neurological condition have not been asked about their mental health by a health professional and 40% of patients with a neurological condition feel that their mental health needs are not being met.

Recognising these challenges, mental health and neuroscience leaders - Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Association of British Neurologists (ABN) and the Neurological Alliance, met to discuss how mental health care for people with neurological conditions could be improved.

This discussion culminated in the report, which calls for:

  • The Neurological Alliance and NHS England and Improvement to work together to develop and deliver neurology and mental health training, and information resources for local Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. 
  • All National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance for health and care professionals on neurological conditions to clearly state how to address the mental health needs of people with these conditions.
  • NHS England and Improvement, Health Education England, National Neurological Advisory Group, Royal College of Psychiatry, ABN and Neurological Alliance to develop the concept of a “brain workforce”. We hope this will address the training and recruitment requirements of health and care professionals involved in the care of people with neurological conditions with mental health needs.

Sam Freeman Carney, Senior Policy and Campaigns Adviser on mental health at Parkinson’s UK said:

“People with Parkinson’s tell us that mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression, can be the most distressing aspect of living with the condition.

"During lockdown many have reported that their health has deteriorated and cited anxiety as one of the most common symptoms that has worsened. The need for support can not be left ignored. 

“This timely report lays out the urgent action required to better meet the mental health needs of people living with neurological conditions. And help bridge the gap in quality of care between their physical health and mental health care."

More information

You can find out more about mental health symptoms and Parkinson's here.

If you are experiencing mental health symptoms talk to your healthcare professional. Support and advice on mental health is also available via our helpline on 0808 800 0303, as well as through other organisations such as Mind and Samaritans.

You can also get involved in our campaigns for improving mental health services for people with Parkinson’s. 



Managing your mental health

As lockdown restrictions ease people may feel worried or anxious. Read tips and ideas from clinical psychologists Andrew Paget and Jennifer Foley, on looking after your mental wellbeing.