IBD has big impact on mental health

New app aims to provide support
  • Deborah Condon

At least three in four people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) feel that the condition has negatively impacted their mental health, a new survey has revealed.

According to the findings, 78% feel IBD has affected their mental health, 75% feel isolated trying to manage the condition, while 65% feel stigmatised.

IBD refers to the conditions Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. There is no known cause or cure and an estimated 40,000 people throughout Ireland are affected. Cases in children have increased three-fold since 2000.

The conditions have similar symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fever, loss of appetite and weight loss. Left uncontrolled, symptoms may flare up, causing severe abdominal pain and frequent visits to the bathroom. If parts of the colon become too inflamed, patients may need surgery and a life-long colostomy bag.

The survey was carried out by the Irish Society for Colitis and Crohn's Disease (ISCC) and involved almost 450 people living with IBD in Ireland. It found that 86% of sufferers do not think patients IBD patients have access to the necessary resources and information they need to manage the condition.

This is especially the case when it comes to information about access to toilets. Some 88% admitted to feeling anxious about the availability of toilets when they go somewhere they have not been before.

The survey was released to coincide with World IBD Day (May 19) and as part of this, the ISCC as launched a new mobile app, IBDWELL, to support those affected by the condition.

It contains a number of useful functions, allowing users to:
-Track health, diet and medication to make healthcare appointments more efficient
-Tag, review and provide feedback on facilities and public toilets nearby
-Share personal experiences and ask questions to other people living with IBD
-Access useful content such as videos, audio features, ISCC contact details, and advice on exercises and mindfulness.

"Our new research reveals that life with IBD in Ireland is filled with anxiety, with a lot of patients feeling that it is difficult to access information and resources to help manage their condition.

"The app is a vital new tool that we hope will also facilitate more efficiency in terms of healthcare provision, as sufferers can provide healthcare professionals with precise details on their day-to-day management of the disease," explained ISCC chairman, Bruno Lucas.

The new IBDWELL app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store now and from the App Store in the coming days. For more information on IBD, click here.

*Pictured at the launch of the IBDWELL app are specialist IBD nurse, Angela Mullen and IBD patient, Sinead Cummins.


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