Psychiatrists are today calling on the
government to put mental health at the heart of their new public
health strategy, which is due to be unveiled later this year.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych)
has published a compelling bank of evidence showing why public
health strategies cannot afford to ignore mental health. The
position statement, No health without
public mental health: the case for action, shows that:
- People with a mental disorder smoke
almost half of all tobacco consumed and account for almost half of
all smoking-related deaths.
- Depression doubles the risk of
developing coronary heart disease.
- People with schizophrenia and bipolar
disorder die an average 20 years earlier than the general
population, largely owing to physical health problems.
- People with two or more long-term
physical illnesses have a 7 times greater risk of depression.
- Children from the poorest households
have a three-fold greater risk of mental ill health than children
from the richest households.
RCPsych President Professor Dinesh Bhugra
said: “Historically, government public health strategies have
concentrated on physical health and overlooked the importance of
both mental illness and mental well-being. But there is no health
without mental health. There is vast evidence to show that mental
illness is associated with a greater risk of physical illness – and
physical illness in turn increases the risk of mental illness. It’s
clear that strategies to improve the health of the nation will only
be effective if they address mental health and wellbeing as
In the position statement, the RCPsych calls on the Coalition
government to make a series of important policy changes,
- Tackling substance addiction through a
minimum alcohol pricing policy and an evidence-based addictions
- Prioritising mental health within
smoking cessation programmes.
- Targeting public mental health
interventions for people at higher risk, for example children in
care and those who are unemployed or homeless.
- Promoting the importance of mental
health and well-being in older age.
Professor Bhugra said: “Earlier this month, a
study revealed that mental illness costs the economy £105 billion a
year in England alone, and is the single largest source of burden
of disease. Including mental health at the heart of the public
health agenda will improve people’s lifestyles and reduce
health-risk behaviours, thereby both preventing physical illness
and reducing the burden of mental illness on society.”
He continued: “Our new position statement
makes clear recommendations for political action and policy change.
I hope that the evidence we present today can persuade government
at all levels, as well as wider society, of the need for action and
the benefits it will bring.”
Responding the launch of this new report,
Care Service Minister, Paul Burstow MP, said "The Government is
clear that there is no health without mental health. That is why we
will publish both a public health White Paper and mental health
strategy that will break new ground. If the right action is taken
early in people's lives, it’s possible to make a big difference.
The right support at the right time can help people realise their
potential, cope with adversity and hold down a job. This is
good for the individual and good for society too."
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Note to editors:
The new position statement, No health without public mental health: the case for change, was published on 26 October by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.