Report calls for mental health to have parity with physical health

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 25 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1973
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

A report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists calls for parity between mental health and physical health—with equivalent levels of access to treatment and agreed standards on waiting times and crisis care.1

It points out that people with a severe mental illness have a reduction in life expectancy of between 15 and 20 years. It says that a “mental health treatment gap” exists, with only a minority of people with mental health problems, except those with psychosis, receiving any intervention.

For example, only 24% of people with a common mental disorder and 28% of people with post-traumatic stress disorder get treatment, far less than the 91% of people with high blood pressure and 78% of people with heart disease.

The report, which was commissioned by the Department of Health for England and the NHS Commissioning Board Authority, calls for greater funding for mental health services.

Mental illness is responsible for the largest part of the disease burden in the United Kingdom, at 23%, whereas cardiovascular disease and cancer are each responsible for 16%. Only 11% of the NHS budget was spent on NHS services to treat mental health problems in 2010-11. The report calls on the government and the NHS Commissioning Board to work together to ensure parity between mental and physical health.

The report also says there must be a greater focus on improving the physical health of people with mental health disorders. It calls on healthcare commissioners to focus on reducing smoking among people with mental illness and to act to reduce the high prevalence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in psychiatric patients treated with antipsychotic drugs.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1973