“Recent data from several states have found that people with serious mental illness served by our public mental health systems die, on average, at least 25 years earlier that the general population.”

While suicide and injury account for about 30-40% of excess mortality, about 60% of premature deaths in persons with schizophrenia are due to “natural causes”

–Cardiovascular disease


–Respiratory diseases

–Infectious diseases

National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, Medical Directors Council, July 2006

Compared to the general population, persons with major mental illness typically lose more than 25 years of normal life span.

Colton CW, Manderscheid RW. Prev Chronic Dis [serial online] 2006 Apr [date cited]. Available from: URL:



“People with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia die, on average, 20 years earlier than the rest of the population.

• More than 40% of all tobacco is smoked by people with mental illness, but they are less likely to be given support to quit.

• Fewer than 30% of people with schizophrenia are being given a basic annual physical health check.

• People gain an average of 13lbs in the first two months of taking antipsychotic medication and this continues over the first year. Despite this, in some areas 70% of people in this group are not having their weight monitored.

• Many health professionals are failing to take people with mental illness seriously when they raise concerns about their physical health.

• People with mental illness should be offered tailored support to quit smoking.

• Patients should be told about the side-effects of antipsychotic medication so they can look out for warning signs, and GPs should monitor their physical health closely.

• All mental health professionals should receive basic physical health training as part of their mandatory training.

• Commissioners and service providers need to be clear about the respective responsibilities of primary and secondary care services for monitoring and managing the physical health of people with mental health problems.”

Click to access Rethink%20Mental%20Illness%20-%20Lethal%20Discrimination.pdf

How to reduce deaths associated with “anti-psychotic” medications

“At least here and there, mental health authorities are recognizing that it is a problem that people in the public mental health system are dying 25 years earlier than the average person, and they are starting to talk about it. (For more information on these death rates, see But while they are often willing to talk about how to reduce death by improving medical care or reducing smoking, they are often much less likely to discuss the role of neuroleptic (“anti-psychotic”) medication in causing many of the deaths, or how to reduce that impact.

“Below is a list of suggestions that if followed could really reduce deaths from neuroleptics, by attempting as much as possible to safely reduce their use, and substitute alternatives wherever possible. You might take this list to your local mental health administrator……”



A great page with references for more information:



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