We’ve all experienced problem skin from time to time, and whilst the occasional spot or blemish can be a nuisance, for some people, and young people in particular, it can affect their mental health too. Dealing with skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis and eczema, can cause issues such as low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. As mental health becomes an increasingly important issue, it’s important that young people are aware of where they can access help if they are affected by their condition, as well as how they can manage it. A new study from the Institute of Health Research aims to tackle the issue, with a three-year research programme which will look at the impact of skin conditions and mental health.
More than half of people in the UK affected by a skin condition each year
According to the BBC, more than half of people in the UK will be affected by a skin condition each year, with over 1.8 million people suffering from psoriasis alone. For some, a skin condition is a temporary occurrence whereas for others, it’s permanent and can have an effect on how they live their lives. 22 year old Damini Mistry has suffered from psoriasis for over 14 years, and told BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat that she ‘struggled’ with the condition, and was bullied in school because of it. She explained that she was never asked by her doctor how she was feeling on the ‘psychological side’ and wish she’d been offered some help.
There are a number of treatments available for psoriasis, but it often recurs because of factors such as stress. Whilst finding the right course of treatment is important, providing advice on how to cope is also crucial in helping people deal with their condition.
Young people taking charge to find solutions
A joint venture by the National Institute for Health Research and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester will look at how young people can stop these conditions from affecting their lives by consulting with sufferers themselves. They believe that through building resilience, young people can learn to feel happier and more confident in their skin and not let their conditions affect their mental health.
Sarah Fletcher, 25, said: “I am so happy that funding has been given to this project. I know myself how much of a dramatic effect living with a skin condition has on a young person’s life and I feel this is a great step in improving the services available, not only for the visible effects but also more importantly the psychological effects. I’m very excited to see the difference this funding can make to young people’s experiences in the future.”
The three-year study has been funded £240,000, and it is hoped that skin condition experts will be able to find a way to help young people like Sarah deal with their condition.
There are some great online resources available to those concerned about the toll skin conditions take on mental health. The Psoriasis Association offers a great support network where sufferers can receive and share advice, whilst your GP will also be able to discuss any concerns you may have.