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Mental health and tuberculosis: the vicious circle

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World Mental Health Day, 10 October, provides a vital focal point to raise awareness of the significant role that mental health plays in the treatment of tuberculosis (TB).

“The link between mental health and TB has not been given much thought in the past,” says The Union’s Director of the Department of Tuberculosis, Dr Grania Brigden.

“However, with the recognition of the importance of person-centred care, we have realised that TB is not a disease in isolation. It is a disease that affects a person, and therefore we need to treat the person and not just the TB.”

The cycle of mental health and TB

“We know that poor mental health is a risk factor for developing TB.” continues Dr Brigden “And, we know that having TB is a risk factor for developing mental health issues. It is a vicious circle, so we need to consider mental health issues from the beginning of someone’s TB journey, and support them. “

Union Members, as part of The Union’s Mental Health Working Group, recently worked with civil society organisation Survivors Against TB to facilitate the webinar ‘TB and Mental Health: An Overview.’

“The Union Mental Health Working Group is working hard to bring these issues to the fore,” says Dr Brigden. “The group provides members with a dedicated space to learn and share, and to look for ways to improve mental health care for people with TB.

“The Union supports a person-centred approach to working with TB survivors and communities affected by TB. The best way to do this is by speaking to people affected by TB, hearing their stories, and working with them to develop tools and models of care that support their mental health during their TB treatment. Not just curing their TB, but ensuring they go on to live healthy lives beyond TB.”

The Union is committed to ensuring the voices of survivors are central in the conversation about the fight to end TB. The opening ceremony of the 51st Union World Conference on Lung Health will feature two TB survivors, Dr Tamaryn Green from South Africa, and nurse Divya Sojan, from India, alongside President Bill Clinton and the Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The Union is also providing sponsored registration for hundreds of survivors of TB and other lung diseases, enabling them to attend the Union World Conference and join the discussions about future developments in TB and other lung health conditions.

Mental health and TB will also be addressed in a number of sessions at the Union World Conference on Lung Health, including:

  • “You have to adjust your whole life”: interconnected, dynamic influences on adherence to treatment for tuberculosis among adults in three UK cities (OA-04-522-21)
  • Identifying subpopulations at high-risk for severe adherence challenges in the treatment of multi- and extensively drug resistant tuberculosis and HIV (OA-06-540-21)
  • Identifying subpopulations at high-risk for severe adherence challenges in the treatment of multi- and extensively drug resistant tuberculosis and HIV (OA-06-540-21)
  • The effect of depression, anxiety, and other risk factors on adherence to anti-tuberculosis treatment in the Philippines (OA-18-615-22)

Find out more about the Union World Conference.

Find out more about the TB and Mental Health Working Group, and membership of The Union.