I am reading through a pretty dismal report on “The Psychological and Social Impact of Skin Diseases on People’s Lives” published in April 2013. The Report was prepared by a panel of independent experts on skin disease on behalf of the officers of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin, commonly referred to as APPGS. The updated report follows on from an initial enquiry in 2003 and even though there seems to be some development of research in the area in recent years, it is heartbreaking that “there remains a lack of dedicated services to tackle the psychological needs of patients with skin disease” according to the Executive Summary of the Chairman, Sir Paul Beresford, who rather ironically, is the Member of Parliament for Mole Valley (which for my friends over the waves, is a local government district in Surrey, England).
As with the 2003 enquiry, “the evidence received by this enquiry highlighted the extensive impact skin diseases have on all aspects of people’s lives from schooling, relationships, self-esteem and career choices, to social, sexual and leisure activities. There was a clear sense of desperation, frustration and, in many cases, isolation” according to Sir Beresford in the Executive Summary of the Report.
I have had 39 years of psoriasis. I do not claim to be an expert in all of the available treatments on offer but I am an expert on the reality that “the benefits of psychological interventions continue to go largely unrecognised and the trivialisation of skin disease in general threatens to derail years of progress in patient care”.
Not once in 39 years was I offerred any help with the impact of this disease on my life.
As I will cover in future posts, I do not believe psoriasis is a stand alone condition for many people. I believe many people who struggle to cope, as did I, may be prey to serious addictions such as alcohol abuse and suffer from mental health conditions.
The Summary ends on the really dismal note that “whilst there have been some advances in terms of available treatments and diagnostic tools, dermatology is still rarely, if ever, considered a core module in university medical and nursing courses” resulting in a not very high interest in the field leading to a severe shortage of dermatologists in the UK.
The estimate is that 54% of the UK population has experience of a skin condition in any given 12 month period.
For chronic conditions such as psoriasis that can last a lifetime, the picture does not look bright except that we can all educate ourselves as best we can and find ways to offer support and share information with fellow sufferers.