In a report published today the cross-party group of MPs and peers finds three key areas where the lack of equality between psychological and physical health services is most evident:
Premature death – People with serious mental illnesses die on average 15-20 years earlier than those without.
Emergency care – People experiencing a psychological health crisis often do not receive timely and appropriate support from mental health services. In 2012/13 some 8000 people were detained in police cells because of the lack of NHS alternatives.
Public health – local authority public health strategies concentrate overwhelmingly on physical health, with just 1.4 per cent of public health spending allocated to mental health. Professor Dorothy Miell, the President of the Society, said:
“It is good to see that politicians from all parties are recognising that more must be done across the NHS to meet the physical and psychological health needs of people with mental health problems.
“The current reactive approach to psychological health problems does nothing to stem the tide of future problems – it simply provides treatment when they occur. Many people do not receive help because they either fail to seek it or are not properly assessed. And as most treatments are far from 100 per cent effective, even when people are referred for treatment, problems are not necessarily resolved.”
In its evidence to the inquiry that led to the Group’s report the Society called for a more proactive government approach to mental health, with an emphasis on preventing mental health problems through a new emphasis on child mental health and on group, neighbourhood and community level approaches.