Improving the physical health of people with mental illness to improve their life expectancy

South London
Published Date: 25 Jan 2019

People who have a serious mental illness live shorter lives compared with the national average – one study in south London showed that women with schizoaffective disorder lived 17.5 years less than the national average, and that the lives of men with schizophrenia were 14.6 years shorter than the national average. Premature death is mostly caused by preventable diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and respiratory problems such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
People who have serious mental health problems are more likely to die as a result of one of these physical health problems than people who have no experience of a mental health problem.

Researchers in CLAHRC South London’s psychosis theme are part of a Lancet Commission to address the issue of poor physical health, inequalities in care and ultimately premature mortality in people with mental illness.

A Lancet Commission involves working in partnership with world-renowned institutions and policy experts to focus on far-reaching issues. Each Lancet Commission is different, but all involve a panel of academics who use their collective expertise and draw on input from diverse sets of stakeholders to dissect the driving factors behind the issue at hand, produce original research where possible, and develop a series of policy recommendations.

Their work will involve an international collaboration of multiple stakeholders to set out the future priorities, actions in clinical practice and identify policy implications. The research team hope that this Lancet Commission will provide meaningful answers and directions for research, policy and clinical practice to address the poor physical health of people with mental illness and ultimately their premature mortality. They will launch the Lancet Commission at the World Psychiatric Association meeting in Lisbon in August 2019.
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