Evidence shows that people with serious mental health needs die between 15 to 20 years before the rest of the general population. This is also known as the mortality gap.
There are many complex reasons for this, including discrimination and stigma, poor life chances, poor physical health and lifestyle choices, the use of long term medication and the way the mental health services are structured.
Following a debate at RCN Congress 2017, the Royal College of Nursing has committed to ensuring people with complex mental health problems receive the same care and achieve the same outcomes as those with physical injuries and illnesses. The RCN aims to be a leader on equity in health and nursing practice – engaging in innovative, new and bold ideas about how its members can deliver effective and holistic services.
Achieving parity of esteem
In spring 2018 we surveyed mental health professionals to establish their views on the current progress in clinical settings of achieving mental health equality. Based on the findings of this report, the RCN has identified three key areas of focus:
- Pushing for increased funding into mental health services on par with physical health services.
- Improved training – consistency, competency and curriculum support.
- Identify areas where access and innovation around physical health has made a difference.