Why has it been so difficult to reduce the mortality gap for populations with serious mental illness?

Studies dating back over 150 years have documented that people with serious mental illness (SMI) have elevated rates for mortality, largely due to general medical conditions. This problem likely results from a complex and interrelated set of risk factors including adverse health behaviors such as smoking, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diet; limited access to and poor quality of medical care; and social factors including poverty, isolation, and stigma. The multifactorial nature of this problem has made it challenging to overcome. Making meaningful improvements in the health and lifespan of people with SMI will require action by clinicians, mental health service users, health policymakers, and public health leaders.


Walker ER, Druss BG. A Public Health Perspective on Mental and Medical Comorbidity. JAMA. 2016 Sep 13;316(10):1104-5.

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