APPG on Parkinson's inquiry: Mental Health Matters Too


The launch of a report, Mental Health Matters Too, calls for a new approach to Parkinson's care.

Members of the UK Parkinson's Excellence Network contributed to the inquiry which warns that current care for Parkinson's lacks crucial mental health support – despite anxiety and depression being amongst its most common symptoms.


The report, which launched on Wednesday 9 May 2018 at Westminster, is the result of a year-long inquiry that shows nearly half of all people with Parkinson's experience mental health symptoms, yet only a quarter of those affected receive any treatment for them.


The report explains how, compared with the general population, people diagnosed with Parkinson's are more than twice as likely to experience depression and anxiety, which is triggered by changes in the brain caused by the condition.


However, the psychological aspects of Parkinson's care are being ignored by the health system, and many with the condition are waiting months, or even years to get the mental health support they need. 


Multiple health care organisations, clinicians and researchers, along with more than 300 people with Parkinson's, gave evidence to the year-long inquiry, building on extensive research carried out by Parkinson's UK into mental health support for Parkinson's. 


Among the clinicians to give evidence was Dr Robert Skelly, consultant geriatrician at Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He said:


"The current NHS system means that many Parkinson's specialists are not able to offer – or even refer – a patient directly to appropriate mental health services, but can only refer back to a GP. This adds further pressure on an already over-subscribed service, while creating added delays for the patient – which can be extremely detrimental.


"Mental health treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy- based interventions, have also been shown to reduce service use and healthcare costs by up to 45% through lower A&E attendance, bed usage and pharmacy costs. This is a huge economic benefit that is simply being ignored."


The report made several recommendations to overhaul current systems and improve services for Parkinson's. These systems include: 

  • NHS England and Public Health England

  • Clinical Commissioning Groups

  • NICE

  • Health Education England

Working together to deliver person-centred holistic care

Although the inquiry showed a clear disconnect between physical and psychological services, the report does highlight pockets of best practice, where physical and mental health professionals are working together to deliver holistic care. 

This includes the Parkinson's Service at Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which is globally recognised for innovations in care and includes a Parkinson's symposium for patients and carers, on-site clinical psychology service and carer-specific interventions. 

Download the report

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APPG Mental health matters too report (PDF, 1.6MB)