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Meeting unmet health need in people with mental health and intellectual disability

Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins Chair BMA Board of Science spoke at today’s Improving the Physical Health for People with Mental Health Conditions conference on:

• the BMA report and recommendations
• promoting prevention and early intervention strategies
• mechanisms of co-morbidity
• meeting unmet health need and delivering joined up care

Abstract
For too long there has been an acceptance in society, and even in the medical profession, that people with mental health problems and intellectual disability will live shorter lives and will suffer because of unmet health needs. In the vast majority of cases, there is no good reason for this. But the voice of these vulnerable groups often goes unheard, and the status quo remains unchallenged. The BMA’s report Recognising the importance of physical health in mental health and intellectual disability – Achieving parity of outcomes was published to challenge this expectation. The report starts to identify what actions need to be taken to support doctors and the medical profession in changing the status quo.

Someone with a mental health condition will typically die between 15 and 20 years earlier than someone without, and people with intellectual disabilities continue to suffer unnecessarily with untreated, or poorly managed, conditions. The majority of premature deaths in these vulnerable groups arise from preventable causes and could have been avoided by timely medical intervention. 

The mechanisms underlying the relationship between mental and physical health are complex: a combination of factors are likely to contribute to reduced life-expectancy in those with mental illness or intellectual disability. These include: health behaviours; under reporting of health problems; poor treatment compliance and the psychological burden of chronic disease. The complex and interrelated nature of physical and mental health problems means that these factors should not be examined in isolation; increased morbidity is invariably linked to factors that occur in combination.

Those with mental illness and intellectual disability frequently have unmet health needs. Barriers to accessing health services for these vulnerable groups include: healthcare provision and organisation; commissioning of services; individuals’ challenging behaviour and discrimination.

The BMA’s report sets out a number of actions to that need to be collectively implemented, and adequately funded, to ensure that each patient receives ‘whole person’ care. These include: 

-    provisions for a national mortality review system
-    promoting prevention and early intervention strategies
-    delivering joined-up care
-    improving training and workforce planning
-    investing in research.

Since publication of the report there has been renewed impetus in taking action on this issue, and a sense of optimism that we are starting to move in the right direction. This needs to be continually built upon – with actions being taken forward by the next government - to ensure that parity becomes a reality.

Full presentation is available for download at the end of this page.
 
Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry of Disability at St George’s University of London. She holds an honorary Chair in the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Durham, and was President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists from 2005 to 2008. She was appointed an Independent member of the House of Lords in 2010. Her clinical and research expertise is on the mental and physical health of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She was President of the BMA from 2012-2013, and appointed as Chair of the BMA Board of Science in June 2013.

Future conferences of interest:

Masterclass: The Legal use of Control and Restraint
Wednesday 14 January 2015 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Positive and Proactive Care: Reducing the need for restrictive interventions
Tuesday 3 February 2015 
Colmore Gate, Birmingham

Meeting the National Access and Waiting Time Standards for Mental Health
Monday 9 February 2015 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Psychological Therapies in the NHS 2015
Wednesday 11 February 2015 — Thursday 12 February 
Millennium Gloucester Hotel & Conference Centre, London

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults in Mental Health Services Including Implications of the New Care Act 2014
Tuesday 24 February 2015 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Bipolar Disorder in Adults
Monday 2 March 2015 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Positive and Proactive Care Meeting the New National Guidance on Reducing Seclusion
Tuesday 10 March 2015 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Measuring and Monitoring Quality in Mental Health
Monday 23 March 2015 
ICO Conference Centre, London

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: Ensuring Compliance in Practice
Wednesday 25 March 2015 
ICO Conference Centre, London

Implementing the national objective to end Prone/Face Down Restraint: Examining Restraint Positions in Practice
Tuesday 21 April 2015 
ICO Conference Centre, London

Improving Mental Health Crisis Care
Thursday 30 April 2015 
ICO Conference Centre, London

Smoking Cessation in Mental Health
Monday 11 May 2015 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Information Governance in Mental Health: Implementing Caldicott2 & the New Code of Practice on Confidential Information
Monday 11 May 2015 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Stronger Code: Better Care Implementing the Changes to the Mental Health Act Code of Practice
Tuesday 12 May 2015 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Masterclass: The Mental Capacity Act and Advance Decisions
Wednesday 13 May 2015 
Cavendish Conference Centre, London

Improving the Quality of Perinatal Mental Health Services
Tuesday 19 May 2015 
Hallam Conference Centre, London


Download: Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins

9 December 2014

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