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Parity is needed between physical and mental health

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has published a major report today that demonstrates how parity between mental and physical health can be achieved.

The report, Whole-Person Care: From Rhetoric to Reality, defines parity as valuing mental health equally with physical health. It highlights the significant inequalities that exist between physical and mental health care, including preventable premature deaths, lower treatment rates for mental health conditions and an underfunding of mental healthcare relative to the scale and impact of mental health problems.

It also highlights the strong relationship between mental health and physical health. Poor mental health is associated with a greater risk of physical health problems, and poor physical health is associated with a greater risk of mental health problems.

FPH members were part of the group of experts who helped produce the report, and we support its recommendations.

Professor Lindsey Davies, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said: "For too long, mental health has not had equal status with physical health among doctors. As a result, the physical health of people with mental health needs has been sidelined. We fully support this paper and agree that individuals should be treated holistically.

“That means looking at people’s physical and mental health, their social care needs and all the other wider factors that impact on their wellbeing. There's some way to go before we in the public health profession are fully playing our part in achieving this.

“At FPH, we are doing this by addressing how we cover mental health and wellbeing in our curriculum, and through the practical resources on mental wellbeing that we provide public health professionals. As local authorities in England take on responsibility public health next month, we need them to fully realise the expertise and skills that public health professionals bring."

Written: 26/03/2013 , last modified: 03/05/2013