Living with physical health problems can be difficult and at times you may find it hard to cope with your health, illness or treatment. During these times, you might find it helpful to speak to a specialist who understands the relationship between physical and mental health.
How we can help
Clinicians in the psychological medicine team are specially trained to help you cope with the emotional effects of your physical health problems.
This service is available to you as a patient, and to your partner and/or family members, who often also experience the emotional strains of a loved one's ill health. We hope the service can help them as well as helping them to support you.
Why would I need help from the psychological medicine team?
A common reason for patients to seek help is to find ways of coping with the feelings associated with serious health problems and hospital treatment.
Although it is normal to experience worry, disbelief and shock when you first hear information about your health and future treatment, these feelings do not usually last long.
If these feelings do continue, get worse or become overwhelming, then this is a useful time to think about asking for psychological help.
It is not good for you to feel low, worried or distressed over a long period of time, as this can also worsen physical illness and symptoms.
In what situations can the psychological medicine team help?
We help in a range of situations, some of which you will experience, some of which you won't. Each individual is different.
For example, we can help if:
- you are having difficulties coming to terms with, or accepting, aspects of your illness or diagnosis
- your everyday life is changing because of your illness making it more difficult to cope
- you are worried about your stay in hospital or plans for going home
- you are having difficulty adjusting and getting back to everyday life after leaving hospital
- you are frightened or worried about returning home after a stay in hospital
- you are experiencing low moods, anxiety and/or stress associated with illness and treatment
- you would like some help coping with uncertainty about your future health and treatment
- you are having trouble keeping control and independence over daily activities
- you are not coping with your medication and/or making decisions about treatment
- you are worried about family problems
- you are having problems with memory and concentration
What happens at an appointment?
We meet in a quiet, private room wherever possible. The first session is an opportunity to discuss the reasons why you wanted to speak to us and describe any worries and concerns you have. It is also a chance for you to tell us more about you and how you have come to see us.
After this, we will agree with you a plan to address your concerns. This may involve:
- returning for a review session
- returning for further sessions to work on specific issues
- being referred to a local mental health service for further support that is closer to your home
During and between sessions, we may suggest that you complete a questionnaire or a diary to help with understanding your feelings and thoughts. These activities will help you to keep track of any changes in your feelings and lifestyle over time and to better work out which interventions are helping the most.
Whilst most of our input is psychologically based (especially techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)), on occasions we may also suggest medication, which can often be started during your hospital stay, monitored in clinic appointments and managed with your GP.
If you are an inpatient, we will write a brief summary of our meeting in your confidential medical record. Detailed discussions do not need to be included. We may also write to your medical team in the hospital here and/or your GP to help the team caring for you understand more.
If there is anyone you would rather we did not speak or write to, please let us know. As long as nobody is at imminent risk of serious harm, your request will be respected.
You can be sent copies of any correspondence about you as required.
All information from your sessions, diaries you keep, and letters to professionals are kept in a secure environment and are subject to the Data Protection Act (this act gives individuals certain rights regarding information held about them).
There are currently no related conditions associated with this treatment.
Royal Brompton Hospital
Administrator: Amanda E-Quaye
Tel: 0207 351 8060
Fax: 0207 351 8061
Administrator: Debbie Price
Tel: 01895 823 737, extension 5259
Fax: 01895 826 524
Hours of operation
Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm (excluding bank holidays).