Parkinson’s UK supports parliamentary debate on mental health support for long-term conditions

We briefed MPs ahead of a parliamentary debate on mental health support for people living with long-term health conditions.

Parkinson’s UK joined with a number of health charities to support a debate in parliament on 16 May about mental health support for people with long-term health conditions, such as Parkinson’s.

People with these conditions are more likely than the general population to experience mental ill-health. 

For many people living with Parkinson’s, mental health symptoms are the most distressing aspect of their condition. However, they’re often overlooked, with health and care support focusing on movement-related symptoms.

MPs debate Parkinson’s and mental health

Working alongside Parkinson’s UK and the Long-Term Conditions Mental Health Coalition, Peter Dowd (MP for Bootle) secured a debate on mental health and long-term conditions. 

MPs across political parties raised several key issues which charities, including Parkinson’s UK, have been campaigning on to improve mental health services for people with long-term conditions.

In the debate it was highlighted that:

  • Mental and physical health care for people with Parkinson’s is not joined up, with little communication or collaboration between physical health and mental health teams.
  • There is a shortage of mental health professionals who specialise in Parkinson’s, meaning people are unable to access the specialist support they need.
  • Many people with Parkinson’s are having to access non-specialist mental health services where there is little understanding of their condition and people’s specific needs.

The Minister for Mental Health, Maria Caulfield, said that the government’s forthcoming ‘major conditions strategy’ would ensure that people’s mental health and physical health conditions would not be treated in isolation. She also said the government was on track to meet its target of 27,000 mental health workers.

Read the debate here or watch it back here.

What we think

Gini Dellow, Policy Manager for Mental Health and Dementia at Parkinson’s UK, said:

“We are pleased that the importance of mental health support for people with long term conditions such as Parkinson’s is getting the attention it deserves in parliament.

Given the higher prevalence of mental ill-health in people with Parkinson’s, it is vital that people receive timely, joined up care from specialist mental health staff who understand Parkinson’s.

We welcome the current minister reaffirming that the major conditions strategy will address the need to join up physical and mental health care. However, we need more detail on what this will mean for the services people with Parkinson’s receive.”

Get involved

You can get involved in our mental health campaigning work by joining our steering group.

As a member of the Mental Health Policy Steering Group you'll use your skills and experiences to help shape the Parkinson's UK policy position and our influencing activities around mental health.