Equally well: mental/physical health outcomes linked

Thursday, 11 October 2018

The mental health picture is stark.

A group of researchers, led by Associate Professor Russell Roberts (Charles Sturt University, Editor in Chief, AJRH) identify the increased risk of early death of people living with mental health issues in rural settings and look at the need for policy and practice responses.

The Australian Journal of Rural Health, in its October issue, reports that, on average, people with mental illness die 20 years earlier than the total population’s average life expectancy. People living with mental illness in Australia are at twice the risk of early death and three times the risk if they live in rural communities. Further, this life expectancy gap between people living with mental illness and the rest of the population is getting larger every decade.

The major causes of early death of people with mental illness are cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer. For every one person living with mental illness who dies of suicide, 10 die prematurely due to cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer. Eighty per cent of people living with mental illness have a mortality-related physical health condition. However the co-existing physical illness is often missed due to ‘diagnostic overshadowing’, where mental illness becomes the sole focus and the co-existing physical illness is left undiagnosed and untreated...read more on our Media Release