The Royal College of Psychiatrists has today published what they are calling a landmark report on achieving parity between mental and physical health.
The report, Whole-Person Care: From Rhetoric to Reality, defines parity as valuing mental health equally with physical health. It highlights the significant inequalities that exist between physical and mental health care, including preventable premature deaths, lower treatment rates for mental health conditions and an underfunding of mental healthcare relative to the scale and impact of mental health problems. It also highlights the strong relationship between mental health and physical health. Poor mental health is associated with a greater risk of physical health problems, and poor physical health is associated with a greater risk of mental health problems.
The statistics comparing physical illness with mental illness make for stark reading. Only 24% of people with a common mental disorder and 28% of people with post-traumatic stress disorder receive treatment, compared to 91% of people with high blood pressure and 78% of people with heart disease.
In 2010, the overall economic and social costs of mental health problems were estimated at £105 billion. Mental health research receives just 6.5% of the total funding available, compared with 25% for cancer, 15% for neurological diseases and 9% for cardiovascular conditions.
The report makes a series of key recommendations for government, policy-makers and health professionals, as well as the new NHS structures coming into force on 1st April including the NHS Commissioning Board, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Public Health England.
Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said:
The Government says it wants to put mental health on a par with physical health, but this report shows how much work needs to be done to make that a reality.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the fact people with severe mental illness on average die 20 years younger than the rest of the population because they don’t get the support they need for their physical health. Last year The Schizophrenia Commission highlighted that mental health accounts for 23% of illness but receives only 13% of the NHS budget, and it is vital that we address this disparity.
This report shows clearly what needs to change. We urge the Government to take these recommendations on board and to put its words into action.
Whole-Person Care: From Rhetoric to Reality – achieving parity between mental and physical health. Royal College of Psychiatrists, Occasional Paper 88, 26 March 2013.
The report can be downloaded from: