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

Dr Phil Steadman Lead for Mental Health BMA Board of Science & Consultant Psychiatrist at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust spoke at today’s Improving Physical Health for People with Mental Health Conditions conference on:

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

In his presentation Dr Phil Steadman covered:

Mechanisms of co-morbidity

The mechanisms underlying the relationship between mental and physical health are complex: a combination of factors are likely to contribute to reduced life-expectancy.

The interrelated nature of physical and mental health problems means that ‘health behaviours’ should not be examined in isolation: increased morbidity is invariably linked to factors that occur in combination.

Commissioning and funding

  • Funding allocated to mental health services does not reflect disease burden.
  • Mental health services tend to be viewed as one of the ‘easiest areas to cut’ during times of austerity.
  • Decisions to cut mental health services more than physical health services contravenes commitments to parity.
  • Untreated mental illness is thought to be costing the NHS over £10 billion in physical healthcare costs per annum.

Promoting prevention and early intervention

The BMA report called for mental health to be a priority for Directors of Public Health across the UK. Intervention programmes should specifically consider people with mental health problems and intellectual disability.

The Royal College of Nursing and the Mental Health Foundation made a joint call earlier this year for early intervention and better mental health provision in the community.

In March, the Education Secretary announced £8.5 million for schemes to provide families with mental health support, focussed on early intervention.

Next steps

  • Ensure that promised funding is available to improve access to mental health services.
  • More work is needed to integrate mental health education with the undergraduate and postgraduate medical curricula.
  • Encourage more research funding for mental health, to more fairly reflect the burden of mental ill health.

In his presentation Dr Phil Steadman stated

'Aim is to value mental health equally with physical health'

'Premature deaths - 60% are for physical problems, the remainder are due to mental health - suicide, accidents, being lower on the social scale'

'Mental health illness accounts for 23% of ill health - but just 5.5% of research funding goes towards this'

Dr Phil Steadman Abstract:

In May 2014 they published what I feel is undoubtedly one of their most important reports, "Recognising the importance of physical health in mental health and intellectual disability; achieving parity of outcomes". The importance of this is laid out in the introduction to this:

 " Third world mortality in a first world country" This is how one expert in the field of psychiatry describes the disparity in mortality rates experienced by people with mental health problems in high-income countries like the UK. One in three of the 100,000 people who die prematurely each year in England have a mental illness; on average, men with mental health problems die 20 years earlier and women die 15 years earlier, than the general population. While this shortened life expectancy reflects higher rates of suicide, as well as accidental and violent fatalities, the majority of deaths in this group arise from preventable causes and could have been avoided by timely medical intervention

Dr Phil Steadman’s full presentation is available for download at the end of this page.

Dr Phil Steadman’s Biography:

Dr Phil Steadman is a consultant psychiatrist with Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and work in a community team in SE London looking after adults with severe enduring mental illness.  I have been a consultant with Oxleas since 1999.

I have a long association with the BMA and have assisted the BMA Board of Science with mental health input into their many prestigious reports and various consultations for about 20 years and currently act as their Lead for mental health.

Future conferences of interest:

Improving Mental Health Crisis Care
Thursday 15 October 2015 , Hallam Conference Centre, London

Positive and Proactive Care Meeting the New National Guidance on Reducing Seclusion
Tuesday 20 October 2015, Hallam Conference Centre, London

Smoking Cessation in Mental Health
Tuesday 20 October 2015 , Hallam Conference Centre, London

Masterclass: Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards
Friday 13 November 2015 , Hallam Conference Centre, London

Safe Staffing for Nursing in Mental Health Inpatient Units
Monday 16 November 2015 , Hallam Conference Centre, London

Identifying and Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence & Improving the effectiveness of MARACs
Monday 16 November 2015, Hallam Conference Centre, London

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: Ensuring Compliance in Practice
Tuesday 17 November 2015, Hallam Conference Centre, London

Download: phil-steadman-updated-parity-presentation-14-09-15_1159.pdf

14 September 2015


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