A drive has been launched by a group of international psychiatrists to end the high rate of premature deaths in those suffering with mental illness. Figures from the UK alone have shown that their death rate is almost four times higher than that of the general population. On average, young people diagnosed with psychotic illnesses like schizophrenia die 15-20 years earlier than others their age. This is thought to result from a combination of poor lifestyle and the effects of medication.
Psychiatrists believe these shocking statistics could be improved if those suffering with mental health issues were given the same treatment for physical illnesses as the rest of the population.
Last year the Health and Social Care Information Centre revealed figures showing that the death rate of those suffering a mental illness was 3.6 times higher than the general population. In a recent statement psychiatrists from 11 different countries (including the UK) say young people living with these mental illnesses are subject to stigma, prejudice and discrimination – all of which prevents them from living healthy lives.
Sufferers of mental illnesses are up to three times more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease, and they are up to four times more likely to take up smoking. Many of the anti-psychotic drugs prescribed cause rapid weight gain, and of course some patients self-medicate with alcohol and illegal drugs.
It is thought that too much emphasis is being placed on the mental illness, and not enough on their physical illnesses. Professor Sue Bailey, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists has said,
“A person’s physical and mental health influence one another: deficiency in the care of one can lead to serious problems with the other.”
The ‘Healthy Active Lives’ statement released by psychiatrists aims to reduce these issues, saying that two years after the onset of psychosis less than 30% of patients should be smoking and over 50% should be exercising the recommended amount.
If you are struggling to cope with a mental illness, speaking to a qualified counsellor could help. For more information, please see our Types of Distress page.
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