NHS to close ‘mortality gap' for mental illness

  • People with a mental illness have life expectancies ten years shorter than the population as a whole.

    NHS leaders are calling on those who are commissioning services to help close the "shocking mortality gap" which sees people with a mental illness have life expectancies ten years shorter than the population as a whole.

    A blunt message from NHS England has said that targeted cancer screening, regular checks for cardiovascular and physical health and smoking cessation programmes should all be improved. Mental health services should be on an equal footing with those tackling physical, officials say, reports the Guardian. Self Portrait 2

    The average life expectancy in England and Wales for people with mental health problems is equivalent to the general population in the 1950s.

    Suffers of mental illness are at an increased risk of the top five health killers which includes, heart disease, strokes, liver and respiratory diseases and some cancers.

    Martin McShane, director for patients with long-term conditions for NHS England said: "The 'mortality gap' we see today is shocking. It is not acceptable people with mental health conditions die younger. For too long, physical and mental health problems have been treated separately and people do not get the services they need every time ... We must act to ensure mental health is on a par with physical health."

    Mental health conditions in England are said to cost approximately £150bn a year. This takes into consideration loss of earnings, associated healthcare and welfare costs, which outweighs the £14bn spent by the NHS each year on giving direct care for people with mental health.

    Geraldine Strathdee, national clinical director for mental health for NHS England said: "We must design a service that meets the needs of its users, and not expect users to fit in with the services we design. We must also work hard to prevent those with physical health problems developing mental health issues. It is clear to me that physical and mental health issues cannot be separated - and our approach to care must change to reflect this."

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