Charter for equal health sets out vision for better physical health support for people with mental health conditions

The leaders of more than 50 organisations will assemble today at the Royal College of Nursing in London to sign an historic Charter for Equal Health and launch a new nationwide collaborative, Equally Well UK.

The Charter for Equal Health offers a vision for improved physical health support for anyone living in the UK with a severe mental illness. It sets out how organisations working nationally and locally will tackle one of the biggest inequalities in health anywhere in the UK.

Today, people living with a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia have a life expectancy that is up to 20 years shorter than average. Equally Well UK will bring together organisations that have a part to play in reducing this inequality to take concerted action to achieve significant and sustained change.

Equally Well UK has been set up by Centre for Mental Health in partnership with Rethink Mental Illness and Kaleidoscope Health and Care. It is supported by the Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Psychiatrists, NHS England, Health Education England, Public Health England, NHS Improvement, Royal Collage of Nursing and many more organisations across the UK, including Hafal.

More than 50 organisations, including Hafal, have already come forward to commit to take action to ensure people with a severe mental illness get the help and support they need for their physical health. They are coming together at the Royal College of Nursing to sign the Charter for Equal Health and make their own pledges for the action they will take.

The event will hear from experts by experience, speaking to Dr Zoe Williams about why equal health matters and what gets in the way. National leaders including Dr Tim Kendall, National Clinical Director for Mental Health, and Dr Wendy Burn, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, will also provide their perspectives on what needs to change. The event will also feature Helen Lockett, the leader of Equally Well in New Zealand, on which Equally Well UK is based.

Alun Thomas, Hafal Chief Executive, said: “We fully support Equally Well in ensuring people with a mental illness and their carers have an equal right to good health and effective health care. As a Member-led charity we are fully aware of the physical health inequalities faced by people affected by mental illness. We also know from experience that improving physical health can be a key part of recovery from a mental illness, and essential to achieving a better quality of life. We will continue to fight for better physical health care and support for our Members, and to ensure that care plans comprehensively deal with physical health.”

Any organisation working in health and care in the UK is able to join Equally Well UK. For more information and to sign up to the Charter for Equal Health and make your organisation’s pledge, visit our new website www.equallywell.co.uk.