Parity of esteem means valuing mental health as much as physical health in order to close inequalities in mortality, morbidity or delivery of care. There is clear evidence that patients with mental illness receive inferior medical, surgical and preventive care. This further exacerbated by low help-seeking, high stigma, medication side-effects and relatively low resources in mental healthcare. As a result, patients with severe mental illness die 10–20 years prematurely and have a high rate of cardiometabolic complications and other physical illnesses. Many physical healthcare guidelines and policy recommendations address parity of esteem, but their implementation to date has been poor. All clinicians should be aware that inequalities in care are adversely influencing mental health outcomes, and managers, healthcare organisations and politicians should provide resources and education to address this gap.
• Understand the concept of parity of esteem
• Be aware of the current inequalities in mental healthcare
• Appreciate how parity of esteem may be improved