Dita: How do people know what’s part and parcel of sort of diagnosis and what they need to get help with?
Professor Rona Moss-Moris, Health Psychologist: I think you’ve got to be guided by yourself and how you manage it and I think having worked with people with MS for a long time, I’m always astounded at how well people manage with the challenges of the illness and I have a huge admiration for anybody with MS really in terms of what they deal with on a day-to-day basis. But I think be guided by yourself. If it just feels that things are being a bit too overwhelming, you know, we don’t have to deal with things on their own and I think it’s shifting that belief in yourself that I should be able to cope, I shouldn’t have to ask for help and so forth, if the illness is feeling too distressing and you’re really needing a bit more support, it’s absolutely okay to say that.
I think there’s increasing recognition that with long term conditions and conditions like MS, we actually need to be doing far more than we are in the Health Service. So there are national agendas around about providing more help for people. And at the moment we’re not exactly where we’d like to be. I’d like to have it so that every single service round the country routinely offers professional support and help specifically to people with MS. Well, this doesn’t happen yet, so we do have to sometimes delve and dig and find it, but it is there if people really, really need it. We need a lot more and I think this is a great start in terms of trying to make sure that we get much more support for people on the ground.
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Professor Rona Moss-Morris is Chair in Psychology as Applied to Medicine at King's College London. Her research has focussed on understanding adjustment to chronic illness from patient and family perspectives, and developing self management and CBT techniques for illnesses such as multiple sclerosis.