People with mental illness are more likely to die early than they were when the Tories came to power, new research reveals.
Figures unveiled by Labour today show that in 2010 those with serious mental health problems were 3.3 times more likely to die before they were 75, compared to the general population.
By 2014, this had risen to 3.5 times.
The stats also reveal the post-code lottery nature of mental health care, with the risk of early death for sufferers in Walsall doubling, while in Camden the figures show a fall.
Luciana Berger, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, said: “For all this Tory Government talks about ‘parity of esteem’ for mental health, the appalling fact is that a person with mental illness is more likely to die early compared with the general population than they were when the Tories came to power.
“Tory Ministers claim to have given mental health equal priority to physical health, but the reality for patients on the grounds tells a very different story. Vital services have been cut or reduced at a time of rising demand.
“Too many people with mental health problems are becoming more seriously ill as they face long waits for help, more people have had to travel hundreds of miles just to get a bed, or have been left to struggle without any support at all. Suicides have risen steadily and are now the biggest killer of men under 49.
“Ministers must urgently explain what they are going to do to turn their empty rhetoric into real and urgent action.”
The figures were released by the House of Commons Library, who defined people with a ‘serious mental illness’ as those who have been in contact with specialist secondary mental health services at any time over the previous three years – including out-patients, people in contact with community services and in-patients.
The stats come in the same month as the Government was criticised for not collecting information on suicide rates, the number of teens on anti-depressants and child deaths in psychiatric care.
Responding to today’s findings on mortality rates, Minister for Mental Health Alistair Burt said: “People with mental ill health should be treated the same as someone who is physically ill — wherever they are in the country.
“That is why we have accepted the Mental Health Taskforce recommendation to identify the gaps in provision between mental health and physical health.
“We have increased funding for mental health to an estimated £11.7 billion last year and have introduced waiting time standards so people know they will be treated quickly.”