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 activity and mental health
We work to promote how looking after our physical health benefits our mental health. For example, being physically active, having a balanced diet, and spending time outside can boost well-being, self-esteem, improve sleep and improve concentration.Visit our advice and information pages Visit our advice and information pages
Getting active and improving health and wellbeing
Living with a mental illness can be hard enough, being told to get active is not as easy as it sounds. We were funded by Sport England to co-produce a physical health toolkit with people living with mental illness. The toolkit uses real life experiences to promote getting active to improve health and wellbeing.Explore the physical health toolkit Explore the physical health toolkit
Physical activity in support groups
Sport England also funded us to address some of the barriers to people living with severe mental illness taking part in physical activity. We did this by embedding activities into local peer support groups and services, aiming to support currently inactive people to take on at least 30 minutes a week of physical activity, however suited them.Read the report Read the report
Physical health check tool
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
A time to quit
There are widespread myths that it is not possible nor safe for people living with a mental illness to quit smoking. Our research with the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance challenges those outdated views.Read our Time to Quit report Read our Time to Quit report
Tobacco Control Plan
The Tobacco Control Plan was first published by the government in 2017 with a mission to create a smoke-free generation in England. As a member of the Mental Health and Smoking Partnership, we submitted recommendations for the plan’s 2022 update.