Scotland must end culture of “mental health fatalism”

Mental health depression

Country must get to grips with shocking mental health life expectancy statistics 

23rd March 2016 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Scotland needs to address the “huge disparity” in life expectancy between people with mental health issues and the general population.

The call was made by the Mental Welfare Commission as it published six priorities it wants the Scottish Government include in its next mental health strategy.

At the moment, across high income countries such as Scotland, men with severe mental ill health die around 20 years before men who are not affected, and women die 15 years before they otherwise would.

This difference is not driven by suicide or injury, but largely by poor physical health, and the commission wants a measurable target set to change that.

The facts are shocking, with men dying 20 years earlier and women dying 15 years earlier than they otherwise would

The commission's other priorities are: a call for the new strategy to be built around a rights-based approach to mental ill health; More done for children and young people; a call for services to respond better to those who do not fit current health or care approaches; an end to the unequal provision of care; and a new approach to workforce development.

Colin McKay, chief executive, Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, said: "Our first priority is to ask the Scottish Government to set a target to reduce the difference in life expectancy between people with severe mental ill health and the general population.

“The facts are shocking, with men dying 20 years earlier and women dying 15 years earlier than they otherwise would, largely due to poor physical health. That has to change.

“In many ways all five of our other priorities can be linked to this first priority. We are calling for a co-ordinated public health approach, linked to a central target, and measurable objectives set year on year. Other countries have made this a public health priority, and we need to do likewise.”