Victory for mental health campaigners, as Government announces plans to tackle avoidable deaths

The charity Rethink Mental Illness has hailed the Government’s new strategy for preventing avoidable deaths as a major success for mental health campaigners.

The Living Well for Longer strategy, released today by the Government, sets out plans for urgently needed improvements in the care that people with mental illness receive for their physical health.

In particular, it promises much greater support for people with mental illness to give up smoking, and new training for health professionals to help them address people’s physical health needs.

Mark Winstanley, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness said:

“This is a massive victory for our supporters, who have been fighting for decades to get proper physical health care for themselves and their loved ones.

“It is an absolute scandal that people with conditions like schizophrenia die up to 20 years younger than average, because of preventable physical illnesses. In fact, last year our Lethal Discrimination report revealed that more than 30,000 people with mental illness die needlessly each year.

“This has to change – people’s lives depend on it. Our supporters have been calling on the Government to take urgent action, and this new strategy shows that their voices have finally been heard.”

“We particularly welcome the Government’s commitment to ensure that people with mental illness get support to give up smoking. Over 40% of cigarettes are smoked by people with mental illness, but they receive very little help or encouragement to quit, so these new measures are extremely important.

“However, this is only the first step in the right direction, and there is still a huge amount of work to be done to make this strategy a reality on the ground. We need the Government and health leaders to explain how they will implement these changes, both nationally and locally. Only then can we reduce the number of people with mental illness who are dying needlessly each year. “



For more information, contact Brian Semple, Senior Media Officer for Rethink Mental Illness or call 0207 840 3043

Notes to editors

Rethink Mental Illness is a charity that believes a better life is possible for people affected by mental illness. Since 1972 we have brought people together to support each other. We run services and support groups that change people’s lives and challenge attitudes about mental illness. We support almost 60,000 people every year across England to get through crises, live independently and realise they are not alone. We give information and advice to 500,000 more and change policy for millions. For more information go to

Brian Semple
Senior Media Officer – Policy
020 7840 3043
Follow me on twitter @SempleSemple