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Parity of Esteem Header

Parity of esteem

Parity of esteem describes the need to value mental health equally to physical health. People with complex mental health needs should have the same access to health care services and support as people with physical health needs.

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.

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To ensure equal care for people with mental health and physical needs, the College is gathering evidence from mental health nurses and nursing staff on how best to achieve this across all health settings and is sharing examples of best practice amongst the nursing community.
1 in 4 People will have a mental health issue during their lives

Achieving parity of esteem

The RCN is 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. We aim to be a leader on equality in health and nursing practice – engaging in innovative, new and bold ideas about how its members can deliver effective and holistic services.

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:

  1. Pushing for increased funding into mental health services on par with physical health services.
  2. Improved training – consistency, competency and curriculum support.
  3. Identify areas where access and innovation around physical health has made a difference.

Parity of esteem - Report of the spring 2018 RCN survey of mental health professionals

We invited nursing staff working in mental health settings to tell us their views on parity of esteem and mental health equality. This report details our findings, which will inform and shape our work over the coming year.

The RCN is also working with Equally Well UK and Citizens UK to explore innovative and practical ways of addressing the current mortality gap.

The RCN is one of the signatories of the Equally Well UK ‘Charter for Equal Health’, a new collaborative backed by over 50 health and care organisations. As part of this the RCN has pledged to improve the physical health of people with mental illness.

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Tom Sandford 145x145

“I think it’s fantastic that the RCN is addressing the issue of parity of esteem”.

Tom Sandford Director, RCN England
news articles 5 news articles
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Page last updated - 03/08/2019