Rethink Mental Illness: It’s time for Jeremy Hunt to make ‘parity of esteem’ a reality

Responding to the publication of the NHS Mandate refresh today, the charities Rethink Mental Illness, Mind, the Mental Health Foundation and the Royal College of Psychiatrists have come together to urge Government to do more to put mental and physical health on an equal footing.

In a joint statement they said:

“We welcome today’s updated NHS Mandate but the challenge for Jeremy Hunt is to make the promise of ‘parity of esteem’ a reality.

“This new mandate makes it very clear that accessible, high quality care should be a given regardless of whether you have a mental or physical health problem. When someone attends an accident and emergency department with a broken leg they can expect to receive timely care, but at the moment people with mental health problems experiencing a crisis don’t always get the urgent help they need and this must change.

“We welcome the commitment for NHS England to develop waiting times for talking therapies by March 2015, which should make a real difference in making sure that no matter who you are or where you live, you have access to these therapies if you need them.

“However, we are concerned that today’s update fails to address the scandal of people with mental illness dying early. If Jeremy Hunt really wants to make a difference to the lives of people with mental illness, we need to address their poor physical health.

“People with serious mental illness die on average 15-20 years earlier than the rest of the population, which means that thousands of people are dying too soon every year. When such stark evidence has been presented for other conditions, such as diabetes, action has followed. The same is not true for mental health.

“Jeremy Hunt has repeatedly said that we wants to reduce avoidable deaths in the NHS, but he isn’t tackling the issue of people with mental health problems dying early. We want to see a mandate that includes targeted support for people with a mental illness such as regular physical health checks and help to give up smoking. These simple measures could save thousands of lives.”

ENDS

For more information, contact Rachel Whitehead, News and Media Manager for Rethink Mental Illness on 0207 840 3138 or email rachel.whitehead@rethink.org

Notes to editors

Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for millions of people affected by mental illness.

For 40 years we have brought people together to support each other. We run services and support groups that change people’s lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness.

We directly support almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone.

We give information and advice to 500,000 more and we change policy for millions.

For more information go to www.rethink.org