Results from an RCN survey of mental health nursing staff show more than half think mental health equality hasn’t been achieved five years after the Westminster Government pledged to introduce measures to ensure people with serious mental health problems had the same access to treatment as that experienced by people with physical health problems. Health departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have pledged similar measures.
Almost four in 10 respondents considered that their mental health setting was ill-equipped to respond to the physical health needs of people with serious mental illness.
Nursing staff say that to achieve mental health equality more funding for mental health care is needed, along with safe staffing of services and better commissioning of services.
Tim Coupland, RCN Programme Lead for Parity of Esteem, said: “It’s not only a tragedy that people with mental illness die so much earlier than the general population, it’s also scandalous in a modern health service that we still have so far to go.”
The RCN will push for sufficient funding for mental health services and develop guidance to help nursing staff in their clinical practice. The College is also asking nursing staff to forward examples of good practice that they know are making a difference.
Tim added: “We want to find out exactly what nursing staff working in mental health think will make a difference. The College and all nursing staff, not just those working in mental health, are determined to work with others to increase life expectancy for people with mental illness.”
Today the RCN hosts the launch of the charter by Equally Well UK, a new collaborative backed by over 50 health and care organisations. The charter invites those who support it to make pledges for the action they will take to improve physical health support for people with severe mental illness.