hospital 180A new report from the Open Public Services Network (OPSN) has found that the premature death rate among those with mental health problems is 2.4 times higher than that of the general population.

Every area of England is affected by this problem but this Cabinet Office-funded report found levels to be “unacceptably high” in one in four areas, many of which also have high levels of deprivation. Researchers also found that around two thirds of cases were due to poor physical health.

Commenting on the findings, Head of Policy and Research at the Mental Health Foundation Dr Iris Elliott said: "This shocking report affirms the need to tackle mental health inequalities, and to roll out a comprehensive public mental health programme in coordination with health and social care services. We have recently examined the evidence for preventive measures, which has conclusively shown the clear link between physical and mental health problems.

"Those with mental health problems are more likely to develop physical health problems, but are less likely to receive support and treatment for this element of their health. We very much hope that this is an issue that is prioritised and tackled as part of the forthcoming NHS England Mental Health Taskforce Report. While we recognize the importance of reforming health and social care services to tackle premature death rates among people with mental health problems, we also need to acknowledge that this is a wider issue for society. Tackling deprivation will have a huge impact on this problem."

Figures fluctuated greatly in the report depending on location - for example in Cumbria the premature death rate was found to be 3.3 times higher whereas in Barnet the figure is 1.2 times higher than the general population.

Recommendations from the report included;
• people who suffer from mental health problems to be offered better stop smoking advice,
• for all eligible people with severe mental health problems to be systematically screened for diabetes and cardiovascular risks,
• for there to be overall better data available for these issues so it can better monitored and rectified in the future.

Recovery Focus group chief executive Derek Caren said: "This report from the OPSN highlights the unacceptable postcode lottery people who experience mental health problems face in this country.

"It’s truly shocking that people who have mental health problems die prematurely compared to the general population. We provide services across the country and see first hand how those we’re supporting in Cumbria have a worse than expected chance of dying earlier than someone we’re supporting in Barnet. Having a mental health problem should not be a barrier to you getting timely and basic health checks and screenings such as those for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. More must be done to end this inequality."

Read the report in full at