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13th December 2013

Parity of Esteem in Mental and physical health

Parity of Esteem in Mental and physical healthParity of esteem is new buzz phrase in the field of mental health . This is a key Government target now that it is a requirement of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. What does it mean? Essentially it’s about people with mental health problems being given the same consideration by services, and the same access to services, as someone with a physical illness would be given.

House of Lords debate

The topic was given a good airing recently in a long debate held in the House of Lords to examine exactly what parity of esteem should mean. There were lots of examples given where parity wasn’t happening:

  • Very long waiting lists to get psychological or talking therapies, which would not be acceptable for someone waiting for physical treatments.
  • People with severe mental illness dying 15 or 20 years earlier than the rest of the population because of lack of attention to ensuring physical well-being.
  • People in crisis reporting difficulties in getting quick responses from crisis mental health services.
  • People with mental illness being defined by their illness, rather than services looking at the whole person.

Positive images

As it is nearly Christmas - a time for good news - I’ve tried to pull together some positive messages about mental health from 2013.

  • A recent report from the Centre for Mental Health examined the link between debt and poor mental health, and showed evidence from Sheffield Citizens Advice Bureau how welfare advice services for people with mental health problems may have saved money in the long term by removing financial stresses on people with mental health problems.
  • There have been some excellent television documentaries about mental health this year. Notably, the excellent programme ‘My Dad and me’ by Rachel Bruno about her fathers’ bi-polar illness (My Dad and me) and the insights into the very caring and patient approach of staff at the South London and Maudsley Hospital in Channel 4’s ‘Bedlam’
  • The link between alcohol and mental health problems has been highlighted through a lot of campaigning work this year, and this will hopefully impact on policy changes. Not only can alcohol exacerbate mental health problems, it can be used by people with mental health problems to mask symptoms.
  • There is lots of first-hand experience now of people benefitting from healthy and stimulating activities like gardening, and growing vegetables. The ‘Ecominds’ project has shown some real benefits in terms of mental well-being, improved self-esteem, and getting back into paid employment. That’s not anti-medicine, it’s showing we can treat the whole person, not just their symptoms. You can find more information at: Ecominds

Assessing the whole person

The QCS management system policies on assessment and care planning look at all aspects of a person’s life, include opportunities for activities that will help promote their mental well-being.

David Beckingham – QCS Expert Mental Health Contributor

Topics: Uncategorized


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