Recommendations for supporting the psychological well-being of children and adults with facial palsy

Emily hiding her faceA consensus document was produced in March 2021 by an international group of Clinical Psychologists, a Psychological Therapist, a Counselling Psychologist, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Researchers and the Deputy CEO of Facial Palsy UK. All work with people with facial palsy and some have the condition themselves. This document aims to outline recommendations for the psychosocial support for this population who are currently undersupported as the condition is largely misunderstood, even by many health professionals.

The authors have drawn from evidence-based approaches for the support of people with facial palsy, and similar conditions, to present recommendations for how mental health professionals can best work alongside physical health practitioners (e.g. surgeons, neurologists, facial therapists) to assess and meet the psychological needs of people with facial palsy.

This guidance starts with an introduction to what is known about the psychological impact of facial palsy, along with recommendations for the support of adults with the condition. There is then a discussion of additional considerations for working with children, adolescents and their families. The document ends with an outline of the various ways in which psychologists/psychological therapists can support their multidisciplinary team (MDT) colleagues to understand the psychosocial impact of the condition.

Psychological support for people with FP should optimally be carried out by a professional who has specialist knowledge of the psychological impact of physical health conditions, preferably working within a multidisciplinary facial palsy service. However, access to such services is variable in the United Kingdom (UK) and it is hoped that the information contained in this document will also be helpful for those mental health professionals working within general physical and mental health services who do not have experience of working with people with facial palsy.

Although this document is written primarily for clinicians working within the UK, it has been developed by a group including UK-based and international clinicians and researchers, and as such it is hoped it will also be of use to a wider, international audience.

The authors welcome feedback and comments on this document and encourage interested parties to be in touch to collaborate, ahead of any future revisions of this guidance. You will find a survey link at the end of the pdf document. Click the link below to read the document.

Recommendations for supporting the psychological well-being of children and adults with facial palsy

New project (2021) to evaluate the degree of psychological distress in patients with facial palsy

Due to the pressures of covid-19, patients with facial paralysis will be disproportionately impacted by increasingly restricted access to care, this may lead to worsening physical and mental health. The VTCT Foundation has funded Facial Palsy UK to undertake an 18-month project to evaluate the degree of psychological distress in patients with facial palsy. A new mobile app will enable patient to take online assessments at home, and will provide them with tailored information. In addition, the app will collect functional and psychological assessments from those awaiting clinical review. Six hospitals across the UK will be recruited to facilitate remote access psychological assessment. The project is in association with Dr Matthew Hotton of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust who has developed psychological management tools for patients. The project outcomes will be evaluated in collaboration with the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England.

Last reviewed: 26-02-2021    ||    Next review due: 30-03-2023