The Unresolved Bottleneck of Accessing Care for Mental Health in MS: Bernd C. Kieseier, MD


The global program head of the development unit for neuroscience at Novartis talked about the evolving landscape of mental health care for multiple sclerosis including the accessibility barrier that remains for patients in many regions. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

“First and foremost, keep asking, keep checking for symptoms. Not only for the obvious symptoms but also, please keep checking for symptoms in the area of mental health. It's much more common than we anticipate, and we can help those patients. Even if it's not pharmacotherapy, which in most cases is something we add, but like conversational groups and patient exchanges are super helpful.”

Psychological symptoms including anxiety and depression often occur in patients living with multiple sclerosis (MS), which increases the severity of their neurologic disability.1 In addition to how common the prevalence of these types of symptoms in MS, they also negatively affect the quality of life of patients.2 Recent research has shown that general providers were perceived by patients and other professionals as central for the management of mental health needs in MS, but may not perceive the role themselves.3 This suggests the need for increased knowledge, training, and improved access to specialist care.

Recently at MSMilan 2023, the 9th Joint ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS meeting, held October 11–13, in Milan, Italy, Bernd C. Kieseier, MD, global program head of the development unit for neuroscience at Novartis, and Amy Sullivan, PsyD, ABPP, director of behavioral medicine at the Mellen Center for MS Treatment and Research at Cleveland Clinic, participated in a brain exchange talk session. In the session, sponsored by Novartis Pharma AG, Kieseier and Sullivan discussed the hot topic of mental health care in MS and the gap that exists between patients in getting access to that type of care.

A couple of days following the session, Kieseier sat down with NeurologyLive® to provide an overview of what was covered in the talk at the meeting. He spoke about how cultural and technological changes have improved the identification of mental health issues in patients with MS. Kieseier also shared his thoughts on what remains a significant bottleneck in addressing mental health issues in MS, and how it can be overcome. In addition, he talked about the potential biomarkers that are being explored in MS treatment, and how they might impact patient care in the future.

Click here for more coverage of MSMilan 2023.

1. Lo Buono V, Corallo F, Bonanno L, et al. Psychological symptoms in Multiple Sclerosis and the role of marital status: results from a retrospective single-center study. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2023;79:105051. doi:10.1016/j.msard.2023.105051
2. Kyriakatis GM, Lykou PM, Dimitriadis Z, Besios T. Efficacy of remote exercise and physiotherapy programs on depressive symptoms in people with multiple sclerosis - A systematic review and meta-analysis. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2023;79:105067. doi:10.1016/j.msard.2023.105067
3. Methley A, Campbell S, Cheraghi-Sohi S, Chew-Graham C. Meeting the mental health needs of people with multiple sclerosis: a qualitative study of patients and professionals. Disabil Rehabil. 2017;39(11):1097-1105. doi:10.1080/09638288.2016.1180547
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