‘World IBD Day: Thinking about IBD and the impact on physical and mental health’

By Aileen Fraser, IBD Clinical Nurse Specialist at Bristol Royal Infirmary

As World IBD Day (19th May 2015) comes around, I have been reflecting back on the changes in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) care over the course of my career. I have seen many changes, and the increase in IBD nurses is particularly close to my heart. This has undoubtedly been instrumental in improving the lives of many patients. However, services are not equal across the board, as was clear from the most recent UK IBD audit (2014). If I could have one wish, it would be for there to be the great IBD services for all patients.

Importantly, the chronic nature of this illness continues to take not only a physical but psychological toll on sufferers. From my talks with patients, I know they find it difficult to discuss their symptoms and don’t want to burden their family and friends by often complaining. They have ongoing, lifelong symptoms and sometimes there is little support at home or work. The embarrassing nature of their symptoms can also make it more difficult to discuss.

Unfortunately, as a health service, we have struggled to provide that psychological support needed to support patients to come to terms with the chronicity of the disease, and the ongoing psychological burden this causes. Hopefully over time we will have improved access to psychological services for all, in the same way there is improved access to medical treatment.

Further reading:

1. nhs.uk/conditions/Inflammatory-bowel-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx
2. crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/
3. mentalhealth.org.uk/