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Mental health stats prompt government to act

Depression doubles the risk of developing coronary heart disease. That's just one of the shocking stats in a new report from the UK's psychiatrists today.

Calling on the government to put mental health at the heart of their new public health strategy, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) has published a compelling bank of evidence showing that:

  • People with a mental disorder smoke almost half of all tobacco consumed in the UK 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.

Dinesh BhugraRCPsych president Professor Dinesh Bhugra, right, said that '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.

He said mental health problems cost £105 billion a year in England alone and is the 'single largest source of burden of disease'. 

It’s clear that strategies to improve the health of the nation will only be effective if they address mental health and wellbeing as well,' Professor Bhugra concluded.

Specifically, the RCPsych report No health without public mental health: the case for action calls on the government to:

  • tackle substance addiction through a minimum alcohol pricing policy and an evidence-based addictions policy.
  • prioritise mental health within smoking cessation programmes.
  • target public mental health interventions for people at higher risk, for example children in care and those who are unemployed or homeless.
  • promote the importance of mental health and well-being in older age.

Government promises to 'break new ground'

Responding to the  report, care service minister Paul Burstow MP promised a ground-breaking new strategy. He 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.'

Page created on October 26th, 2010

Page updated on October 26th, 2010



The causes of bipolar disorder aren’t completely understood, but it often runs in families. The first manic or depressive episode of bipolar disorder usually occurs in the teenage years or early adulthood. The symptoms can be subtle and confusing, so many people with bipolar disorder are overlooked or misdiagnosed–resulting in unnecessary suffering. But with proper treatment and support, you can lead a rich and fulfilling life.