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People with severe mental illness experience worse physical health

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People with severe mental illness experience worse People with severe mental illness experience worse physical health

People with severe mental illness have significantly worse physical health compared to the general population, a new report by Public Health England has found.

The report found patients with mental health conditions have a higher prevalence of:

  • obesity (1.8 times more prevalent than the general population)
  • diabetes (1.9 times)
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (2.1 times)
  • stroke (1.6 times)
  • heart failure (1.5 times)
  • Coronary Heart Disease (1.2 times)
  • asthma (1.2 times)

These patients are also around twice as likely to have multiple physical health conditions as the general population,

‘It’s unacceptable that people with severe mental illness live with more ill health and die up to 20 years younger than the rest of the population,’ said Professor Julia Verne, Head of Clinical Epidemiology at Public Health England. ‘We need to look beyond mental illness to a ‘whole person’ approach to health care, helping to improve peoples’ lives. It is vital that people experiencing severe mental illness are supported to improve their physical health, including better access to support and services such as screening programmes, health checks and stop smoking services.’

Younger people with mental health conditions experience the greatest level of health inequalities, being 5 times more likely to have 3 or more physical health conditions than the general population. Younger people with SMI suffer further from a higher prevalence of:

  • obesity (3 times more prevalent than the general population)
  • diabetes (3.7 times)
  • hypertension (3.2 times)

‘It is hugely concerning that the average life expectancy of someone living with serious mental illness is the same as the life expectancy of the average adult in the 1950’s,’ said Mark Winstanley, CEO of mental health charity Rethink. ‘The physical health needs of people experiencing serious mental illness must be taken into consideration alongside their mental health needs. We hope that this timely report from Public Health England alongside the work of the Equally Well collaboration will bring around much-needed change.’

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