The Independent View: Hope yet for parity esteem for mental health issues

Mihir Magudia is Head of Strategy & Public Affairs for St Andrew’s Healthcare, the UK’s largest mental health charity that provides more services to the NHS than any other charity. On his blog, Spotlight, he praises Norman Lamb for signalling “parity of esteem” between mental health and physical health treatment at a recent conference:

…Norman Lamb went further than his predecessors. After rightly pointing out that people with mental health problems suffer from an institutional disadvantage in the health system (mentioning how they have been ignored by the reforms on waiting times, choice and payment by results) he went on to call for something very specific.

A statutory entitlement for people with mental health services to access services on exactly the same terms as people with physical health problems.

Now on first glance, this might seem obvious, but for anyone familiar with mental health services, this would be a huge step forward:

From people in prison or living homeless on the streets to people suffering from mild depression and anxiety, there are huge problems in accessing services and huge delays which worsen people’s mental health conditions.

Norman Lamb’s suggestion, if implemented, would revolutionise services for people with mental health problems and ought to betaken up as government policy. It’s a shame that it’s not (yet), but I understand from early indications about the forthcoming NHS Mandate, that there will be hardly a page where mental health does not feature and there is an emphasis on access to genuine choice for patients and service users.

I don’t know when or if we’ll get to genuine equality between mental and physical health, but the speech I heard today makes me far more hopeful that that day will actually come.

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One Comment

  • Am I alone in hating the use of the word “issues” when someone really means “problems” or “difficulties”? An issue is a topic or subject for discussion but unfortunately it has crept into usage as a euphemism for people who don’t like to call a problem a problem. It’s a sloppy American import and I loathe it.

    Sorry but I’m a pedant and a proud one at that.

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