INTERNATIONAL: Why People with Mental Illness May Face Poorer Physical Health and Early Death

July 26, 2019

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News


A new report calls on governments and health care providers to address the physical health needs of people with mental illness. Compared to the general population, those with mental illness are more likely to die prematurely. After analyzing almost 100 studies, the report’s authors found that most people with mental illness who die early do so because of preventable physical health issues. For example, people with depression are at roughly 40 percent higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The report also found that those with mental disorders are less likely to receive medical care, such as a physical exam or surgery, than those without. “We do need to start addressing the mind and the body together,” said Joseph Firth, research fellow at the University of Manchester and chairman of the Lancet Psychiatry Commission, which published the report. “It sounds like a very old-age saying of ‘healthy body, healthy mind.’ But looking at the data, that’s so well-supported that it’s almost impossible to imagine an effective treatment system where we keep these two things separate.”