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34,000 stroke survivors in Northern Ireland suffering mental ill health, study shows

'30% of people said they have not received enough emotional support to rebuild their lives after stroke' (stock photo)
'30% of people said they have not received enough emotional support to rebuild their lives after stroke' (stock photo)

By Lisa Smyth

More than 34,000 stroke survivors in Northern Ireland are fighting mental ill health, with some experiencing suicidal thoughts, a report reveals today.

The Stroke Association has released the findings from the largest ever survey of people affected by stroke, shining a light on the devastating impact of living with a brain injury.

It has revealed that 93% of people here who have had a stroke battle anxiety, depression, lack of confidence and thoughts of ending their life.

Despite this, 30% of people said they have not received enough emotional support to rebuild their lives after stroke.

Relationships are turned upside down, a partner can become a carer, a breadwinner jobless. Ursula Ferguson, head of stroke support for the Stroke Association, said: "These figures are extremely concerning and show a desperate need for support to cope with the hidden, and often overlooked, effects of stroke.

"The evidence highlights how important it is that families, friends and health professionals who support stroke survivors understand what it means to live with these 'hidden effects', ask how people are feeling, and provide appropriate emotional and psychological support."

The findings reveal many people have to adapt to the physical consequences while living with the fear of another stroke.

The charity said the report has exposed gaps in support and is calling for improvements in services.

Ms Ferguson continued: "There is hope. We know from these findings that things can, and do, improve over time for many stroke survivors.

"In Northern Ireland we're working in partnership with the regional psychology team to launch a new emotional support pilot in the South Eastern Trust area which will deliver one to one counselling for stroke survivors.

"We hope this will be rolled out across Northern Ireland because we know people need more specialist emotional support.

"We're also working with the Health and Social Care Board to develop a new stroke pathway, which will help more stroke survivors access more long term support including our stroke helpline and peer support groups."

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