The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) defines the ‘parity of esteem’ as ‘valuing mental health equally with physical health’. A report conducted in March 2013 by the RCPsych purports to significant inequality between mental and physical health care, including avoidable premature deaths, lower rates of treatment for mental health conditions and a lack of funding in mental health care relative to the scale and impact of mental health problems.
Close to home
With my father being a consultant psychiatrist and my sister recently qualified, it is fair to say that mental health problems were readily identified and avoided in my household. Despite significant education on the matter, my family stigmatised mental health problems. Whether this was a mechanism to separate and maintain a healthy work/life balance (having shadowed them I learnt this was probably one of the most important aspects of the job) or the passing down and distribution of a greater societal definition of stigmatisation, I cannot say for certain; but if the ‘experts in the field’ hold this view, what chance do the people who suffer from mental health issues have when trying to redefine and integrate themselves into today’s society? Having said this, it is important to note that I’m not claiming to speak for a reliable consensus of our mental health experts, but more importantly, I believe an open discussion and overhaul is needed both in society and legislatively.
A necessary overhaul
Coming from this background, working at Harley Street Care has been more than a job for me; it’s been my societal duty to try and bolster quality care for those suffering with mental health. This doesn’t just involve taking a professional and ethical approach to the way care is given, but to treat our clients like we would treat our friends or our close relatives. The emphasis here is to make our clients feel at home and equally integral to our society – not to stigmatise their mental health condition. We champion the parity of esteem in accordance with the Royal College of Psychiatrists to the extent that, when compared to physical health we aim to give and teach:
Equal access to person-centered quality treatment and care
Equal effort to improve the quality of care across the board
Equal time, effort and resource to the treatment of those with mental health problems
Equal status within our approach and recommendation of care; and
Equal status in the measurement of health outcomes.
We believe the parity of esteem is central to the re-examination and overhaul required within mental health. Recently, our Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans to tackle stigma around mental health with a focus of societal efforts in workplaces and schools. Although this is a significant step in the right direction, at this stage, more than words are needed to tackle a developing mental health crisis.
Have you experienced prejudice in the workplace, a public environment or a school or university? Were you or someone you know stigmatised by your/their mental health status by colleagues or relatives? What occurred and how did it make you feel? If you had the ability to change societal opinion and attitudes, what would you recommend or what advice would you give others?
We would love to hear from you; if you’d like to share your story, Harley Street Care may be able to help. Contact us here.