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Sixth meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Axial Spondyloarthritis

Axial SpA and Mental Health: Assessing the Relationship & Identifying Opportunities for Improvement

· 59% of people with axial SpA will have some sort of mental health problem compared to 25% of people with musculoskeletal conditions and 20% of the general population

· In our survey last year 46% of people found their mental health had deteriorated during Lockdown One

· Our Report ‘Axial Spondyloarthritis Services in England: A National Inquiry’ showed that just 25% of rheumatology teams were able to refer patients directly into mental health services

Tonight (28 April 2021) the All Party-Parliamentary Group for Axial Spondyloarthritis will launch an investigation into axial SpA and mental health.

At the meeting MPs will consider how axial SpA affects emotional wellbeing day to day and people’s experiences of accessing vital services that help them manage their mental health. Initial findings of new research funded by NASS on mental health and social media will also be revealed.

The meeting is the first step in a campaign that will begin in the autumn to increase awareness of the impact of axial SpA on people’s mental health and ensure people get access to the right support, now and in the future.

Commenting, Dr Dale Webb, CEO NASS said:

“Axial SpA is a misdiagnosed and misunderstood condition. Diagnosis takes too long, and it can be hard for people to find a treatment that alleviates the all-consuming pain and extreme tiredness associated with AS. This takes a significant toll on people’s mental health. We hear time and time again, from people who feel isolated and depressed. They feel disconnected and struggle to take part in family and working life. We are determined to change this and enable people to get seamless access to vital mental health services that will make the difference between thriving or surviving.”

Currently the NICE Guideline for Spondyloarthritis does not include guidance on mental health and emotional wellbeing, instead it refers to other guidance on mental health in long term conditions.

The virtual meeting will begin with a presentation from Paul Curry, who will share his experiences of living with axial SpA and managing his emotional wellbeing. MPs will also hear from academics and healthcare professionals, who will talk about the current situation and share their vision for long-term solutions.

The meeting takes place ahead of World AS Day on Saturday 8th May 2021. This year the campaign is dedicated to increasing awareness of Axial Spondyloarthritis and will shine a light on axial SpA and mental health.

Notes for editors.

1. About the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS). We seek to transform the diagnosis and care of people living with axial SpA. We campaign policy makers for early diagnosis and better services. We work with the NHS to get axial SpA identified and diagnosed quickly.

We’re determined that everyone receives effective care. We make sure people with axial SpA get the latest information and the support they need to tackle living with this condition.

And we build an active community, online and through our local branches across the UK.

Axial SpA may work silently. But we don’t.

2. About the All Party Parliamentary Group for Axial Spondyloarthritis (APPG). The APPG was formed to oversee national implementation of the NICE Guideline for Spondyloarthritis. The guidance does not include guidance on mental health and emotional wellbeing and instead refers to other guidance on mental health in long term conditions.

3. A recording of the meeting will be made available on the NASS website ( within 48 hours of the meeting