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Pathological Priorities

Written by Lucas Brammar · Tuesday 26th March 2013

Previously I blogged about the 'stigma' and discrimination often faced by those confronting mental illness - even by colleagues. It was incredibly apt, therefore, that just a week later, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) published their "Parity" report.

The report entitled Whole Person Care: from rhetoric to reality calls for an equality in physical vs mental health. As with many of my colleagues, I saw the word "Whole Person Care" and was instantly guilty of a pre-formed stereotype. I don't like the term whole person care nor holistic medicine. I hear these terms and my thoughts instantly switch to bright colours, 60s attire and I start humming "this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius". More so, this topic becomes riddled with questionable pseuodoscience and tentative nods to evidence-less forms of complimentary medicine. I think such terms are perhaps self destructive and instantly mark out mental health as odd. Ambiguous terms such as this make the whole topic even more off putting.

Holistic rants aside, this report is an exceptionally important read (or at least glance) for all future doctors. There is an unquestionable inequality in mental and physical health in this country. It seems that if we can't 'see' something, it's not quantifiable and therefore loses a position of importance. It leads us to have 'pathological priorities', putting the physical before the mental. Despite this, both influence one another and deserve equal importance.

Some of the key points of the report are:

  • A call for equal funding of Mental and Physical Health Services
  • A call to reduce discrimination and stigmas associated with Mental Health
  • A call for equal care and treatment of Mental health/Physical Health
  • A call for management and leaders (such as commissioning boards)to acknowledge the equality of mental/physical health

Perhaps the most important for myself as I read through this was a call for equal access to Mental Health treatments under NICE clinical guidelines. Currently, patients have the right to receive only mental health treatments which have undergone NICE technology appraisals - not those offered by clinical guidelines. For example, NICE Clinical Guidelines state talk therapies are more effective than instant antidepressants for treatment of mild depression.

The report is a huge step toward equality in mental and physical health. Perhaps we should all just take a moment to address the importance of both.

You can read the full report and a summary on the RCPsych website here:

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/usefulresources/publications/collegereports/op/op88.aspx

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