Rethink: Increase in mortality gap for people with serious mental illness is unacceptable

A new study published today by BMJ.com showing that the mortality gap for people with serious mental illness is increasing should act as a ‘wake-up call’ to the health system, according to the charity Rethink Mental Illness.

Rethink Mental Illness CEO Paul Jenkins said: “It’s absolutely unacceptable that people with serve mental illnesses are dying needlessly every day from common physical health problems.

“It’s outrageous that people with illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in the UK have a worse life expectancy than a child born in a deprived country such as Haiti or Cambodia.

“The effect on the body of the symptoms of mental illness, along with the side effects of medications such as antipsychotics or antidepressants, could put people at an increased risk of a number of health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

“Despite this, many of our members and supporters have told us that their doctors are not aware of these risks and fail to increase monitoring for such conditions.

“At Rethink Mental Illness we have been campaigning to raise awareness of this issue amongst heath professionals for many years and are currently training physical health activists to campaign across the country.

“Another problem for people with severe mental illnesses is that some doctors can be too quick to dismiss their health concerns and fail to take them seriously. We know of one case in which a woman’s severe headaches were ignored by her GP for four years, until she died of a brain tumour.

“These statistics should act as a wake-up call to a health system which is still consistently failing to meet the physical health needs of those with a mental illness. We’re not asking for much, we just want those with severe mental illness to have the same quality of health care as everyone else.”

ENDS

To find out more about the study click here.

For more information, please contact Rachel Whitehead, Senior Media Relations Officer for Rethink Mental Illness on 2027 840 3138
Notes to Editors
Rethink Mental Illness, the leading national mental health membership charity, works to help everyone affected by severe mental illness recover a better quality of life.
Rethink Mental Illness helps more than 52,000 people each year through its services and support groups and by providing information on mental illness.
Our website www.rethink.org receives more than 500,000 visitors every year.

Rachel Whitehead
Senior Media Relations Officer, Rethink Mental Illness
020 7840 3138
07971 971315


Working together to help everyone affected by
severe mental illness recover a better quality of life.

89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TP
 


Follow Rethink on Twitter @Rethink_