Failure to take mental illness seriously leads to unnecessary deaths
Charity says that thousands of people with mental health problems are “dying needlessly” in England each year.
The charity, Rethink Mental Illness, have said that smoking, drinking and obesity were leading to 33,000 deaths per year and the Royal College of Psychiatrists have said that it is “one of the biggest health scandals of our time”.
Ministers have said that they expect mental health to be treated with as much importance as that of physical health.
One in six people in the UK are considered to be mentally ill, from those who have depression to those with rarer disorders such as schizophrenia, reports the BBC.
More than 100,000 deaths each year are officially classed as “avoidable” and are often due to lifestyle decisions such as a bad diet. This includes thousands of deaths from lung cancer that could have been prevented if people did not smoke. Also included are heart problems due to lack of exercise, a diet full of fatty food and smoking. Suicide is not counted in the statistics.
Rethink have said that people with mental illnesses represent a large proportion of avoidable death figures, but the issues is being ignored. They said that patients were less likely to be given support to help them stop smoking, despite 40% of cigarettes being smoked by people with mental illness. It is also said that some anti-psychotic medication led to patients putting on a stone in weight not being monitored.
Associate director of campaigns at Rethink, Victoria Bleazard, has criticised Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for “barely touching on mental health” when announcing plans to deal with avoidable deaths earlier this year. She says that there were “systemic problems in the NHS” which includes doctors focusing on a patient’s mental health problems and not dealing with physical health problems.
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