A new report suggests almost one in four areas of England has unacceptable rates of deaths among people with mental health issues.
Words: Daisy Greenaway, Subeditor: Mariya Savova
Funded by the Cabinet Office, the study looked at deaths before the age of 75 between 2011 – 2012 in over 200 areas. In every area the early mortality rate was highest among those with mental health issues. They also found that in 51 of the areas the statistics were “particularly worrying”.
It has long since been known that mental heath sufferers die earlier than the general population but this is the first study to inspect local levels. Overall, the death rate for those with mental health problems was 2.4 times higher than the general population.
The study, carried out by the Open Public Services Network, part of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce – claims that the needs of those with mental health problems are not addresses and this is failing them both mentally and physically.
Their report mirrors a study by the Nuffield Trust think tank and was published in the midst of a new mental health scheme under the NHS.
Charlotte Alldritt, the report author, said one in six people suffered from mental health issues every year and the NHS desperately needed to improve. She explained: “We need to narrow this gap across the board. Everywhere can do better, but the areas that are doing even worse than you would expect are particularly worrying.”
“What our research showed was that some of this is relatively easy to prevent. It is about making sure they get basic checks for things such as diabetes and high cholesterol,” Alldritt added.
While suicide was found to be a large factor in accounting for the number of deaths, physical health was believed to be responsible for nearly two-thirds.
Researchers looked at 200 different areas as part of their review and found those with mental illness were:
- 6% less likely to have blood pressure tests
- 9% less likely to have screening for cervical cancer
- 15% less likely to have a cholesterol check
Paul Farmer, from Mind, said the report should act as a “wake-up call”.