More than 4 million people in England with a long-term physical health condition also have mental health problems, and many of them experience significantly poorer health outcomes and reduced quality of life as a result.
In terms of NHS spending, at least £1 in every £8 spent on long-term conditions is linked to poor mental health and wellbeing – between £8 billion and £13 billion in England each year.
Long-term conditions and mental health: The cost of co-morbidities, published jointly by The King's Fund and the Centre for Mental Health, suggests that care for a large number of people with long-term conditions could be improved by:
integrating mental health support with primary care and chronic disease management programmes
improving the provision of liaison psychiatry services in acute hospitals
providing health professionals of all kinds with basic mental health knowledge and skills
removing policy barriers to integration, for example, through redesign of payment mechanisms.
This paper suggests that developing more integrated support for people with mental and physical health problems could improve outcomes and play an important part in helping the NHS meet the quality, innovation, productivity and prevention challenge.
The authors conclude that the prevailing approach to supporting people with long-term conditions is at risk of failing unless we recognise the role of emotional and mental health problems in reducing people's ability and motivation to manage their physical health.