Poor care for people with mental health problems


Tuesday 2nd June, 2009

The University of Leicester has published new research revealing inferior levels of medical care for people suffering with mental health problems.

The study found poor quality care in most branches of medicine for those with a substance abuse or mental health diagnosis compared to standard medical care for patients with no psychiatric problems.

Researchers investigated whether mental health care given to people with conditions such as substance misuse differed to that given to people who have no mental disorders.

Their investigations discovered that although frequency of medical contact was similar there were disparities in physical care given to people with psychiatric problems and poorer care to those with a pre-existing mental health problems.

Research involved analysing 31 valid case studies in which clinicians were found to link physical symptoms to a psychiatric diagnosis without thorough assessment of the person. Inferior quality care did not depend on current psychiatric symptoms but was given to persons with previous or current mental health diagnosis.

The findings have led to questions about doctors working in specialised fields treating patients with mental health problems differently because of pre-existing mental health labels and whether that is linked to higher mortality because of poor levels of care.

Those with mental health problems should be given care which is comprehensive and of equal quality as those people receiving standard treatment. There may also be a case to suggest that previous mental health conditions may increase the risks of complications such as diabetes or cardiovascular disorders which would therefore require enhanced quality of medical care.

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