Improving mental health outcomes

Within our society there has been a long-standing lack of parity between mental and physical health, with those suffering from mental health issues often experiencing stigma and discrimination. Luckily this is beginning to change. In 2013, the Minister for Care Services, Norman Lamb, campaigned for parity of esteem between mental and physical health, following a report produced by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (Department of Health and The Rt Hon Norman Lamb, 2013). The report set out the rationale for a parity approach to mental and physical health, and made recommendations for how parity can be achieved, predominately in health and social care (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2013). More recently, newly elected leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, has created a dedicated Minister for Mental Health in his shadow cabinet. Liverpool Wavertree Labour MP, Luciana Berger, is the first to be appointed to this role. However, there is currently no equivalent position in the Conservative party.

Around 20% of the world’s population have mental disorders or experience mental health problems, with half of mental disorders beginning before the age of 14 years (World Health Organization (WHO), 2007). Additionally, it is estimated that around 800 000 deaths by suicide occur each year (WHO, 2014). However, it is argued that this is a conservative estimate due to the stigma associated with suicide, lack of reliable death recording procedures, and religious or legal sanctions against suicide in some countries (WHO, 2014). It is apparent that mental health forms a large portion of demand on health services worldwide, and should therefore be made a higher priority on the global public health agenda.

In March, NHS England launched an independent taskforce whose role was to develop a 5-year national strategy to improve mental health outcomes across the NHS. The subsequent strategy interim report, published in September, set out how national bodies will work together between now and 2021 to help people have good mental health and make sure they can access evidence-based treatment rapidly when they need it. In the report it was recognised that parity between physical and mental health is necessary but not sufficient, and that the huge variation in access to services between different groups of people must also be tackled (Mental Health Taskforce, 2015).

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health. This year the theme is ‘Dignity in Mental Health’. For more information, or to find out how to get involved, visit:


Department of Health, The Rt Hon Norman Lamb (2013) Achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health. The Stationery Office, London

Mental Health Taskforce (2015) The Five Year Forward View Mental Health Taskforce: public engagement findings. (accessed 27 September 2015)

Royal College of Psychiatrists (2013) Whole-person care: from rhetoric to reality. Achieving parity between mental and physical health. Summary. RCPsych, London

World Health Organization (2007) 10 facts on Mental Health. WHO, Geneva. (accessed 28 September 2015)

World Health Organization (2014) Preventing suicide: A global imperative. WHO, Geneva. (accessed 28 September 2015)

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 2 October 2015.

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