parity of esteem
The Prime Minister has stated her intention to tackle the 'burning injustices' in our society with wide-ranging social reforms. Any progress made among minority and marginalised groups with severe and chronic mental illnesses would serve her well as a measure of her success in mental health. However, to achieve this, more of the government's well-meaning words and intentions need to become actions - sooner rather than later.
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The current political prominence that mental health is enjoying is both welcome and meaningful. But promises of improvement have a habit of slipping, and the NHS' current parlous financial situation could plausibly lead to mental health tottering backwards instead of taking the leaps forward it needs.
The movement for change must be met by more than warm words from those with the power to write legislation and apportion budgets. We need our politicians as well as the public to champion mental health at the highest level, with genuine commitment to the humanitarian as well as economic arguments for better services.
One size does not fit all and many of the current systems we have to deliver physical health care simply aren't sufficient or appropriate for those dealing with a difficult mental health problem as well.
Mental health is still a long way away from achieving 'parity of esteem' with physical health. Although this is a complicated topic and not always straightforward, repealing the Human Rights Act and/or withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights will remove mechanisms that have made huge strides in closing the current gulf, and which have the potential to continue to make a positive difference...
Parity of esteem is a good slogan. Reforming the law to give people with capacity the right to refuse compulsive treatment for mental illness, even though doing so might make their own health worse, will be a key test of whether the government is serious about making parity happen. Change will take time, but the government must start thinking about whether it wants parity in practice, or is content for it to remain just a good sound-bite.
Over a decade. That's how long someone with bipolar disorder can wait before they get a diagnosis for their condition. And during this time that person will receive an incorrect diagnosis on average four times.
In 2012 Parliament enshrined in law the principle of parity of esteem between mental and physical health. This means that people must have the same access to NICE-recommended treatments whether their health problem is mental or physical. We are nowhere near that position now.