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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Meeting with Paul Burstow

Wednesday, 29 February

It's not often I blog twice in one day, but I wanted to let you know that I met with Paul Burstow and his team this morning. With me were William Pickering, our Public Affairs Manager, and Professor Kam Bhui, our Lead for Public Mental Health. We presented an Executive Summary on parity of esteem between mental and physical health; what it’s about, and why it’s so important. We also presented the start of a longer document with worked case examples, that Chairs of the Faculties have helpfully provided for us. They seem impressed with this work, and we are committed to working with the government in England, and I guess the same would definitely apply across the UK, for furthering a proper understanding of parity of esteem, the lives of our users of services, but also to improve the mental health of those with physical illness.

We have been working on a refined amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill to ensure parity of esteem for mental and physical health and are hoping the government will support the proposal when the Bill returns to the Commons. I do hope they will, as this would be some positive proof to all the members of the College that the government and the coalition was serious about mental health services, and how they need to be protected for the sake of our users.

As Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg himself said earlier today, while announcing funding for a children’s mental health programme, "Mental health must have the same priority as physical health".

Yesterday, I had a really good meeting with Profsesor Cornelius Katona and colleagues from the legal profession, around asylum seekers and immigration. Our particular ongoing concerns are about the conditions in which asylum seekers are kept, and still them not being truly able to access good mental health assessments, when clearly so many of them have mental health problems and/or learning disability.

Cornelius has kindly offered to bring together all the work that's been done over the last few years about immigration and asylum seekers, and will be giving a presentation at the next meeting of College Council. I hope you would agree that we need somebody such as Cornelius to drive this forward on behalf of the College, working with our legal colleagues, our public health and primary care colleagues, and paediatricians. Please send your thoughts back to me about this (you can use the form below), because I think this is a key issue that we have slightly let slip off the College agenda.



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