A research study carried out by Oxford University and funded by the Wellcome Trust has found that serious mental illnesses reduce life expectancy by 10–20 years, a loss of years that’s equivalent to or worse than that for heavy smoking.
The meta-analysis, published in the journal World Psychiatry, highlights the discrepancy between physical and mental health services.
Geoff Heyes, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, said:
“This new research adds to the significant body of evidence that people with mental health problems die younger than the general population. We know it is possible to live a long and healthy life with a mental health problem but under-funded and poorly integrated services are preventing people accessing a range of quality treatments to enable them to manage their both their physical and mental health."
“Campaigns such as Time to Change have helped reduce the stigma surrounding mental health problems, and people are becoming more willing to seek help sooner. However, when people with mental health problems do seek help, they can find it more difficult to access physical health services and have worse outcomes for physical health conditions, sometimes because health professionals write off their concerns about legitimate physical complaints as a symptom of their mental health condition."
“While smoking-cessation has been a public health priority and smoking related deaths have reduced in recent years, too little attention has been paid to evidence-based and targeted interventions to help people with mental health problems stop smoking. After all, 42% of all cigarettes smoked in England are by people with mental health problems.
“We urgently need to see mental health services given as much importance as physical health, and much better integration of mental and physical health services, so that people are treated as a whole and taken seriously."
For more information about the research study, please visit Oxford University's website