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Royal College of Nursing: Parity of Esteem – Delivering Physical Health Equality for those with Serious Mental Health Needs

The RCN have released a document giving an overview of the work the RCN is doing to address the mortality gap between people with serious mental illness and the rest of the population as well as our work towards establishing parity of esteem between mental and physical health. 

People with serious mental illness die 15-20 years before the rest of the general population. This is called the mortality gap.

Why is this? There are many reasons, these include discrimination, stigma, poor life chances, long term use of medication with severe side effects, unconscious bias and lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of staff to name a few. How services are designed also plays a part, as does the lack of adequate funding. There is an absolute need to equate the importance of mental health and mental health service provision with physical health and physical health service provision. We call this parity of esteem.

This means giving equal priority and value to mental and physical health needs, so that people with mental health problems will have:

  • equal access to care and treatment
  • the same levels of dignity and respect from health and social care staff
  • the same quality of physical health care as those without a mental health problem.

In 2017, RCN members said more action was needed to address the current mortality gap for those with a serious mental illness.i The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has developed a Parity of Esteem Programme and is working collaboratively with others to address the problems those with serious mental illness face. Nurses have an important role to play and there is evidence to support how best nurses can help. This brief report is for nursing staff and aims to raise knowledge and awareness of the current mortality gap. It also provides some good practice examples and practical tips about how nurses can influence this important issue.

“Paying attention to the physical health needs of people with serious and complex mental health conditions is essential if we are to close the current mortality gap for those with the most serious and complex mental health needs.” Professor Dame Donna Kinnair RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, May 2019

Read the full publication here

Source: 20th May 2019

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