Parity of esteem


Lots of my clinical work, with children and young people with cancer, requires the team I work with to understand physical and psychological elements of a young person, and their family’s, health.

I also know, mainly from working groups and Twitter, that there is a statutory requirement to work to parity of esteem for physical and mental health.


I don’t think I’m the only one who will ask someone if their broken finger is getting better if I meet them in a corridor, but only ask about the depression in a private space. Or feel awkward when I ‘suspect’ someone of having a mental health disorder. (Suspect here, seems different than suspecting tumour progression or cardiomyopathy. Not like a clever detective finding the answer to a riddle but the difficult moment when you’ve waiting for a bus with amorous teens at the other end of the shelter.) I could blame this on the stigmatisation of mental health disorders in the UK generally. I’m not sure it’s not just that I’ve not worked hard enough to dispel my own prejudices.

How can we – in child and adolescent medicine – work towards making mental and physical health have parity of esteem? What steps have you taken (or know have been taken) to get there?

I’d love to hear – and then try them out.

– Bob Phillips




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