2020Health claims legal enforcement of key measures are necessary to ensure ‘parity of esteem’ and for Britain to tackle depression in the workplace.
2020Health has today published a new report, ‘Whole in One – Achieving equality of status, access and resources for people with depression’, which calls for the legal enforcement of “parity of esteem”, the term used in the NHS for valuing mental health equally with physical health. Around one in six working age adults suffers from a mental illness such as depression, anxiety or mood disorder at any one time and one in four will experience such illness during the course of a year.
The Rt. Hon. Norman Lamb, Minister for Health said, “Following the All-Party report on ‘Parity in progress’ last week, I welcome 2020health’s ‘Whole in One’ report which highlights ways to legally embed parity of esteem for people with depression. I am passionate about improving prevention and services for people with mental illnesses and know that we need radical improvements to ensure people get the help, support and treatment that they need, when they need it.”
Key recommendations from the report include:
• NICE to ensure legally-binding recommendations become standard for mental illness treatments to achieve parity with treatments for physical illness.
• Healthcare bodies to have a legal requirement to fund a range of services to meet local population mental health needs.
• Promote employer’s obligations under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act to support mental wellbeing in the workplace.
2020Health’s report argues that achieving parity of esteem is not just a point of principle but critical for UK plc. Mental illnesses are estimated to cost the UK business economy around £30 billion a year. Self-reported depression is the single most important cause of workplace absenteeism in the UK.
Julia Manning, Chief Executive of 2020Health, said “Parity of esteem has been talked about since the last election, but to become a reality requires legal force behind it. In addition to this, while we continue to treat mental illnesses such as depression as separate from physical illnesses, we perpetuate the myth that ‘mental’ illness isn’t physical, despite many symptoms being experienced physically. Continuing to use the term ‘mental’ conjures up images of people being mad, sad or bad, when the reality is that they are simply ill, just like someone with arthritis, diabetes or ‘flu.”
Emer O’Neill, Chief Executive of Depression Alliance said, “It is well documented that spending on mental illness is not proportional to the devastating impact that mental health problems can have on people’s lives. However, what is particularly worrying is that the gap between spend as a proportion to burden has been increasing since parity of esteem was enshrined in the Health and Social Care Act. We need to do something radical to turn the tide, and using legal force to employees’ rights are protected, and guidance and guidelines for health authorities are created and followed, would be a crucial step.”
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