June 2016

Dr Ian Petch, South West London and St George’s NHS Mental Health Trust

People with vision impairment have an increased risk of depression, new research suggests. Research commissioned by Thomas Pocklington Trust and undertaken by South West London and St George’s NHS Mental Health Trust and South West London Academic, Health and Social Care System found more training for support staff is needed to ensure signs of depression are recognised and treatment is accessed.

Key Facts:

  • There is a clear association between visual impairment and increased risk of depression.
  • National data available from the Health and Social Care Information Centre suggests that Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme services are recruiting very small numbers of people with visual impairment for the treatment of common mental health problems.
  • Where people with visual impairment have accessed IAPT services, on average, they are equally likely to remain in treatment, equally likely to engage in routine measurement of progress and appear to present with similar levels of severity of depression and anxiety as those without visual impairment.
  • Brief training for support staff can promote confidence in identifying depression among people with sight loss and in supporting them into accessing treatment.

How Can This Research Help?

The research identified the need for IAPT services need to improve their recording of disability data and more specifically data regarding visual impairment as a disability. It also identified the need for extensive training for peer, professional and lay individuals who support people with sight loss to improve recognition of depression and enhance a facilitated pathway to psychological treatments.

Links: 

Research Findings: Access to Psychological Therapies for People with Sight Loss and Depression: What is the Evidence? – PDF version and Word version

Full Report: Access to Psychological Therapies for People with Sight Loss and Depression: What is the Evidence? – PDF version and Word version