Study reveals mental illness can reduce life expectancy by up to 20 years

A new Australian-led study has found a broad range of mental illnesses are associated with lifelong burdens such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

(File photo). Source: 1 NEWS

As a result, those with mental illness can have a reduced life expectancy of 20-25 years, the report in the Lancet has found.

Professor of Psychology and Public Health Max Abbott at AUT says, "The reasons for reduced life expectancy include high rates of smoking and other drug use, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity."

"Lack of access to comprehensive physical and mental health services is another major factor."

Dunedin School of Medicine Professor Jim Mann says these findings should be of "enormous concern" to all agencies involved in health care, as well as the Government.

"Clinicians and epidemiologists have long known that those with mental illness are at increased risk of heart disease as well as obesity and diabetes," Professor Mann said in a statement.

"Our rates of mental illness are high."

The study is said to help indicate why Māori and Pasifika people are over-represented in mental health statistics.

It also recognises the relationship between social factors, such as poverty and mental health.