The Mental Health Forward View, published February 2016, looks to the next ten years in mental health and has been compiled by a dedicated Mental Health Strategy Taskforce, chaired by the CEO of mental health charity, ‘Mind’, Paul Farmer, and DofH Mental Health advisor, Jacqui Dyer.
What is it?
It highlights the inequalities in mental health provision for those from BME backgrounds, and the NHS’s prioritisation of physical, over mental healthcare. It dedicates the NHS to developing ‘parity of esteem’ for mental and physical health over the next decade.
Physical and Mental Health – the proven linkage
The NHS’s publication of this report is arguably connected to its attempt to cut costs for physical healthcare too. Indeed, the Mental Health Foundation has highlighted that individuals suffering from depression are approximately 67% more likely to die from heart disease, and shockingly, schizophrenics are more than three times likely to die from respiratory disease. The MHF has attributed this to the fact mental health users are less likely to have physical maladies detected, and receive encouragement to make healthier lifestyle choices, like give up smoking and reduce alcohol consumption.
The West Wakefield Multispecialty Community Provider has devoted itself to mental wellbeing through its social prescription service, whereby it recommends social activities to those who may be experiencing anxiety or depression. The results look promising so far.
With a cash-strapped NHS however, it is questionable how viable these recommendations truly are. With one in four of UK residents experiencing a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime, that’s a significant chunk of the population plausibly accessing NHS mental health services.
The MHFV is the first such dedicated report advising on future adaptations to mental health services, and has certainly set the bar high for improvements, with the increasing recognition of Mental Health problems in the UK an obvious success. As the burden on physical health departments within the Health Service continues to stretch the NHS, it is truly questionable whether the ‘parity of esteem’ suggested is indeed possible.
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