Life expectancy is reduced for those with a severe mental illness
According to a recent study published in BMC Psychiatry, poor physical health is a huge problem among individuals suffering with severe mental illness in the UK.
The University of East Anglia found that of the 782 patients surveyed with conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, high levels of obesity, heart disease and diabetes were found.
Various studies have suggested that the life expectancy of individuals with a serious mental health concern may be up to 25 years shorter than the general population and the University of East Anglia believes that this could be a direct result of poor physical health.
The research showed that 66 per cent of the individuals with a mental health concern had a Body Mass Index greater than 25 (the cut off point for the normal range), 34 per cent had high blood pressure and 52 per cent had abnormally high cholesterol levels.
The same study also found that poor diet, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption were more common among individuals with a mental illness, and in addition, many were being prescribed antipsychotic drugs which can lead to weight gain.
Though there are many contributing factors to poor health among the mentally ill, mental health nurses are being blamed for having a poor influence upon their patients.
According to lead researcher Professor Richard Gray, mental health workers tend to have sustained one-to-one relationships with their patients over many years, meaning that those who smoke, have a poor diet and fail to exercise are having a negative influence on the lives of already vulnerable people.