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Hearts & Minds – Tackling mental health issues in congenital heart patients

Hearts & Minds – Tackling mental health issues in congenital heart patients

Research has shown that people living with long-term health issues are two to three times more likely to experience mental health issues compared with the general population. Further research shows an increased risk and under-treatment of mood and anxiety disorders in adults with congenital heart disease specifically. 

Our own research backs this up; 81% of the patients who responded to our survey in August 2017 said that they had experienced depression, 49% said they regularly experience anxiety about the future and 35% told us that they regularly experience panic attacks.

Our Hearts & Minds project has been put together to address this. Creating a support network for people born with heart conditions who also suffer with poor mental health, the project will work to reduce occurrences of depression, anxiety and panic attacks in participants. It will provide accessible resources to congenital heart patients to help them to feel they have somewhere to turn and will feel less discriminated against for speaking out about their mental health.

As well as an interactive online forum where heart patients can support each other and reach out for help at any time of day, a Call Me Now or a Call Me First Thing button will be on our website for people who need to talk. We will signpost to other agencies such as The Samaritans and make best use of partnerships with other charities, hospitals and specialist centres to create an holistic support package. We will extend our helpline offer to include specialised mental health coaching.

1-2-1 counselling and support over the phone and face-to-face will be available and webinars on useful topics such as mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy, techniques for dealing with panic attacks and reducing loneliness and isolation will run.

You don’t have to suffer in silence with the double illnesses of a heart condition and poor mental health. We will raise awareness via networks and smart use of technology we will make it as easy as possible for people to reach out for help, and receive it.

We want to give congenital heart patients the tools, skills and opportunities to tackle their mental health problems, coming out the other side stronger, more supported and with a greater resilience to tackle anything life throws at them.

No such programme currently exists in the UK. 

As part of the Hearts & Minds project, we will facilitate research into links between congenital heart conditions and mental health issues to create practical treatments and therapies that will make a real difference to the c.200,000 congenital heart patients struggling with poor mental health. In doing so, the project will bring about real and lasting change.

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