Mental and physical health conditions are often connected. People severely affected by mental illness often experience poorer physical health; living with higher rates of conditions such as obesity, asthma, diabetes, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure.

A higher chance of poorer physical health means people with severe mental illness are likely to have shorter life expectancy. Were the signs of poor physical health to be identified earlier and addressed through follow-up support that understands the relationship between mental and physical health, it is likely that people would have a greater life expectancy.

Closing the mortality gap 

When the government announced their Major Conditions Plan to help prevent, diagnose, treat and manage six major conditions - cancer, cardiovascular diseases including stroke and diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, dementia, mental ill health, and musculoskeletal disorders we responded with recommendations. 

Almost 27,000 adults with severe mental illness die prematurely each year from preventable physical illnesses, while 46% of people with a mental health condition also have a long-term physical health diagnosis

As a part of Equally Well UK, we outlined why the government must commit to improving the physical health of people with severe mental illness to stop more unnecessary deaths.

Physical health check tool

When struggling with your mental health it's easy to focus just on your mental wellbeing. The NHS recommends people living with severe mental illness should have an annual health check with their GP to support their physical health.

This tool can support you to work in partnership with your healthcare professionals to get these checks done every year with appropriate follow-up support.

More than a number

Weight gain and obesity disproportionately affects people living with mental illness. Remaining motivated during the ups-and-downs of mental illness, the complicated relationship between eating and emotions, and a lack of long-term support are just a few challenges people experience. 

Alongside the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, we explored these challenges using the experiences of people in services and evidence from practitioners and commissioners. 

Mental health and smoking