Mental health treatment for heart disease patients evaluated for roll-out

Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH) has announced that a new mental health therapy for heart disease patients is being evaluated for a wider roll-out.

Part of the ‘PATHWAY’ study, which is led by GMMH and The University of Manchester (UoM), and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the treatment is called Group Metacognitive Therapy (MCT).

A ‘PATHWAY’ study recently found that heart disease patients that took part in MCT became ‘significantly less anxious and depressed’ and, overall, there was an improvement in the mental health of ‘one in three heart patients who received the therapy as part of their heart disease recovery support package’.

According to GMMH, the new therapy helps people to ‘manage worries and low mood by reducing unhelpful styles of thinking, such as rumination (dwelling on the past) and worry (concerns about the future)’.

It focuses on supporting people to ‘discover new and more helpful ways to react to negative or distressing thoughts’ and is delivered in a group setting, with other people ‘who have been through similar experiences’.

GMMH says that, after a serious heart problem, it is ‘common to develop mental health problems’ with around one-third of patients experiencing anxiety and/or depression. The trust adds that research shows ‘this type of distress reduces quality of life’, and therefore, ‘increases the risk of further heart problems and even death’.

Group MCT was used as part of a ‘package of support’ for heart disease patients. Current similar support includes an emphasis on exercise and education, but GMMH says that – until now – there has not been such a focus on improving mental health.