Developments

New podcast ‘Gutcast’ launches to support IBD community during COVID-19

Mental health is a growing concern for those living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with existing high levels of stress and anxiety compounded by COVID-19

  • Research reveals high levels of mental health issues due to IBD with 82% experiencing stress and 74% experiencing anxiety
  • Irish Society for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (ISCC) has reported a 300% increase in calls to its helpline during COVID-19 – key concerns include cocooning, accessing healthcare appointments, and managing mental health 
  • 40,000 people in Ireland living with IBD, most of whom diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35

A new podcast ‘Gutcast’ has been launched by the Irish Society for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease (ISCC) in partnership with Janssen Sciences Ireland UC in response to national research that shows the extent of mental health concerns among those living with IBD and the need for accessible supports for stress, anxiety and depression, all of which are being compounded by COVID-19.

The research conducted among people living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), has revealed that mental health issues have the highest impact on everyday life with 82% of people with IBD stating they have experienced stress, 74% experienced anxiety and 53% experienced depression due to their condition. In response to this research, ‘Gutcast’ has been developed to provide practical advice and information for people living with IBD in a digital format that can be easily accessed during and after the pandemic. A bonus episode was recorded in response to COVID-19 to further support patients during this stressful time.

An estimated 40,000 people in Ireland live with IBD, most of whom are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. The ISCC has reported a 300% increase in calls to its helpline and requests for information between March and June 2020 as a result of COVID-19 compared to the same time period in 2019. Key concerns of those contacting the ISCC for help include maintaining mental wellbeing and accessing healthcare appointments while adhering to government advice to cocoon during the pandemic.

Gutcast brings together healthcare professionals, sports stars and social media influencers living with the condition to give their opinions and advice on a variety of topics including mental health, fatigue, managing work and social life, sex and relationships and getting the most out of your healthcare appointments. Each Gutcast episode has been compiled in response to feedback from people living with IBD with the aim of providing practical advice and to address questions they may not feel comfortable openly discussing.

Amy Kelly, Crohn’s patient, Director of the ISCC and Gutcast host said, “Now more than ever we can see the importance of IBD resources people can access from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Gutcast will be a lifeline for those who have just been diagnosed, or are living with IBD, to better understand how to live a full and active life and how to navigate difficult situations like the one we find ourselves in now. The Gutcast series was designed to empower people to self-manage their illness in a really positive way.”

Professional rugby player John Ryan, comedian Andréa Farrell, and blogger Dearbhla Toal (aka Belle Azzure) are just some of the contributors sharing their personal journey of diagnosis through to living with IBD. The podcast also features contributions from the country’s foremost specialists in the area of IBD including Dr Anthony O’Connor, Consultant Gastroenterologist, Tallaght University Hospital, Dr Jennifer Wilson O’Raghallaigh, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Beaumont Hospital and Natalya Price, Psychotherapist & Sex Therapist, Mind and Body Works.

Anthony O’Connor, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Tallaght University Hospital said: “Within the IBD community there is a strong ethos of ‘people caring for people’, and as we navigate our way through these difficult few months, this ethos is more prevalent than ever. With such high levels of anxiety, stress and depression experienced by people living with IBD, taking steps to improve fatigue, relationships and work life balance will improve the mental wellbeing and quality of life for those affected. Gutcast addresses many of the questions people may have and will help them to manage their condition with the support of their healthcare team. I would encourage anyone living with IBD, or indeed those with a family member or friend who has IBD, to download the podcast series.”

Commenting on his IBD journey, Gutcast contributor and professional rugby player, John Ryan said: “Living with colitis can be very difficult. As athletes we are taught our whole lives to push our body through discomfort – having colitis makes this much harder. But I’ve learned to manage my condition and work hard to achieve my professional and personal goals. While it can be challenging, I am a very hopeful and resilient person. I really enjoyed contributing to this podcast and believe it is a fantastic resource for anyone living with IBD to learn about better ways of managing the illness.”

Laurent de Saint Sernin, General Manager, Commercial Operations, Janssen Sciences Ireland UC said, “Janssen is delighted to launch Gutcast today in partnership with the ISCC. We are committed to driving innovation not only in IBD treatment but also in delivering much needed supports for patients and their families. This digital solution aims to respond to an unmet need among those living with IBD in Ireland who have concerns about managing their illness and mental health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gutcast has the patient voice at its centre and delivers information and advice on Crohn’s and colitis through a medium that is informal and enjoyable to listen to, but also makes sense to peoples’ everyday lives. We hope this series will provide people living with IBD, three quarters of which report taking sick leave from work, school or college with advice on how to better manage their illness and reduce the burden of this disease.”

Gutcast comprises eight episodes, with the first three episodes available now and a new episode will be released every Monday for five weeks. It will be available on the ISCC website as well as on Apple Podcast App, Google Play Music and Spotify.

To support the campaign online, use the hashtag #Gutcast and visit iscc.ie for more information on IBD supports and services available in Ireland.

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