Head of Education and Learning, Changing Faces
Ambassador, Changing Faces
Finding mental health and wellbeing support to help manage a skin condition isn’t always easy, but the right services can change lives for the better.
With 30% of GP appointments relating to skin, it’s safe to say there’s a need for services and support for anyone with a skin condition.
How skin affects mental health
According to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Skin (APPGS), Mental Health and Skin Disease, 2020 — clinicians reported 98% of skin disease patients say their condition affects their emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Jude Duncan, a Changing Faces Ambassador, was a 20-year-old student when she developed psoriasis and has since been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Jude explains: “My psoriasis has taken me on a roller coaster of emotions.”
I became progressively less happy the more people made comments.Jude Duncan
The reactions of others to your skin
Often, it’s the reactions of other people to those with visible differences that can exacerbate appearance-related concerns and distress. Research from Changing Faces found that people with a visible difference experiencing hostile behaviour from others have risen to 43% in 2021 from 34% in 2019, and it’s higher for younger people (18–34) at 62%.
Jude shares her experience: “A comment from a lady in the shop where I worked broke me — I became very insecure, constantly felt like everyone was looking at me, paranoid. All this resulted in my depression and anxiety getting much worse. I became progressively less happy the more people made comments.”
Nearly two in five people (38%) with a visible difference reported that support with confidence and self-esteem would make the biggest difference to them, while one in three (34%) said support for their mental health and wellbeing was needed.
Getting the right support
Healthcare professionals seeking support for patients struggling with the impact of having a skin condition or visible difference often face long waiting lists and limited resources. However, for patients experiencing appearance-related distress, there’s a place to refer them.
Changing Faces offers a range of services — all free and available across the UK — including specialist one-to-one counselling and coaching from qualified counsellors and practitioners. There are also online self-help resources and a help and information line to talk about experiences in a safe, supportive environment. They run peer support groups for adults and parents supported by a practitioner, plus workshops and counselling for young people and children.
Everyone should have access to the support they need. As Jude says: “If you’ve ever faced challenges like I have, remember you are not alone, and there is help out there if you need it.”