Health Inequalities – physical health and wellbeing


A report by the Mental Health Foundation in 2011considered health inequalities for those with serious mental health problems, identifying the depressingly persistent links between poverty and poor mental health, consigning people to lives of social disadvantage, lack of opportunity and unemployment.

Research has shown that people with serious mental health problems die 20 years younger than their peers, not because of their mental illness but due to underlying, undiagnosed and/or untreated physical illness. Some of the most worrying statistics are that:

  • Co-morbidity in schizophrenia accounts for 60% of all premature deaths not related to suicide
  • People with mental illness are 5x more likely to have diabetes
  • 4x more likely to have heart disease
  • 4x more likely to have respiratory disorder

The actions we are taking:

  • Consulted with our members on the links between physical and mental health and produced a comprehensive report highlighting inequalities
  • Secured a small award from the Government to run targeted physical health activities in our services
  • Raising awareness of the issue with the Government and the NHS
  • Focusing on joint work with other agencies to specific areas of need:
  • Working with pharmaceutical companies to lobby for more research into treatments and their side effects
  • Working with partners on specific health issues such as smoking and the barriers to people accessing support to stop

Our Chief Executive made the following presentation to the Voluntary Health Scotland Conference earlier in the year.