Cancer: Depressive Illnesses

Department of Health written question – answered on 1st March 2017.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Equality)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment the NHS has made of potential links between anxiety and depression and the onset of cancer; and what recent steps his Department has taken to promote wellbeing.

Photo of David Mowat David Mowat The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

Both the ‘Five Year Forward view for Mental Health’ and ‘Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: a strategy for England 2015-2020’ recognise the close link between mental health problems and poor outcomes for long term physical health conditions including cancer.

People with common mental health problems often have physical long term conditions. When mental and physical health problems are treated in an integrated way people can achieve better outcomes. NHS England is supporting 22 ‘Early Implementer’ projects across the country to lead the way in integrating psychological therapies with physical health care. Early implementer services are integrated into a number of different physical healthcare pathways including cancer.

The Government has also committed to full roll out of the Recovery Package for cancer patients by 2020. Undertaking a Holistic Needs Assessment (HNA) and putting together a Care Plan are key parts of the Recovery Package that should be offered to a patient soon after their diagnosis and at the end of treatment. The HNA guides a conversation about the person’s holistic needs (physical, psychosocial, financial and social) in order to identify any concerns. Mental health concerns and emotional support needs should be picked up in this assessment and support offered.

In December 2016, NHS England announced Transformation Funding of over £200 million available to Cancer Alliances over the next two years, specifically to support those areas of the Cancer Taskforce strategy that they estimated would need significant investment, including the Recovery Package.

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