Lethal discrimination

Lethal discriminationThis report published by Rethink explores why people with mental illness are dying needlessly and what needs to change.

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Key findings

  • People with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia die, on average, 20 years earlier than the rest of the population.
  • More than 40% of all tobacco is smoked by people with mental illness, but they are less likely to be given support to quit.
  • Fewer than 30% of people with schizophrenia are being given a basic annual physical health check.
  • People gain an average of 13lbs in the first two months of taking antipsychotic medication and this continues over the first year. Despite this, in some areas 70% of people in this group are not having their weight monitored.
  • Many health professionals are failing to take people with mental illness seriously when they raise concerns about their physical health.

Recommendations

  • People with mental illness should be offered tailored support to quit smoking.
  • Patients should be told about the side-effects of antipsychotic medication so they can look out for warning signs, and GPs should monitor their physical health closely.
  • All mental health professionals should receive basic physical health training as part of their mandatory training.
  • Commissioners and service providers need to be clear about the respective responsibilities of primary and secondary care services for monitoring and managing the physical health of people with mental health problems.