Every GP practice has a Link Worker in mental health, with each worker looking after several GP practices. The key role of a Primary mental Health Link Worker is to provide support, education and problem-solving for the primary health care team. This entails helping GP’s with assessments and management of common mental health problems and acting as a signpost for patients to other services which may benefit them. They ensure people access the best route into a service. Link Workers also offer advice and support to other agencies such as social care, environmental health and the police. Caroline Woodger is a Primary Care Mental Health Link Worker and covers Sudbury, Glemsford, Lavenham and Long Melford and works with adults aged 17 and over. (a referral from the GP being required). Caroline explained where her work fits in with primary care and other services and then gave an insight into how the service itself was set up, by whom, the area covered and why. Caroline’s presentation opened up areas of discussion and interaction with the group covering Pathways to Care, Pain & Depression, Treatments and Current Projects. Under these subject headings she discussed at length symptoms, behaviour, treatments, feelings, CBT, moods, statistics, management and access to services. To end she talked about the current project being piloted in some GP surgeries that may roll out in 2012.
Chronic Pain and Depression Management
Suffolk Wellbeing Service
(Caroline provided our group with this very interesting talk on 21st May 2012)
It is fair to say that pain provokes an emotional response in everyone; when in pain you may feel constantly tense and stressed. Over time this constant stress can result in different emotional problems associated with depression. For example; altered mood, anger, anxiety, low self, esteem, family stress, fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbance, social isolation, weight gain/loss, work issues. Depression is, therefore, a common co-morbidity that compounds the therapeutic challenge faced by health professionals, often going unrecognised as the focus is more on the physical symptoms rather than the psychological impact. Chronic pain and Depression are inextricably linked. They share some of the same nerve pathways and neurotransmitters – brain chemicals that act as messengers travelling between nerves. Chronic pain can force you to struggle with tremendous loss e.g. loss of exercise, sleep, social network, job and/or income. These losses can make you feel depressed and then the depression can magnify your pain and reduce your coping skills. If you feel your mood has been affected by your pain, you need to speak to your GP about appropriate treatment options. Following evidence based guidelines; your GP should either offer support, active monitoring or referral for further assessment and intervention. You may not routinely be offered anti-depressants, but for patients with a mild depression that complicates the care of their physical health this may be appropriate. Other evidence based interventions include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps people identify and develop skills to change negative thoughts and behaviors. CBT says that individuals -- not outside situations and events -- create their own experiences, pain included. And by changing their negative thoughts and behaviors, people can change their awareness of pain and develop better coping skills, even if the actual level of pain stays the same. If you wish to talk further about the impact of pain on your Wellbeing, you can ask you GP to refer you to the Linkworker based within your surgery. We are able to discuss with you, your concerns around your general health and wellbeing, with a view to signposting or referring you onto relevant services or resources.
In the meantime, here are some useful Wellbeing websites: