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Longevity Research

In 2006 the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Medical Directors Council released a Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) funded study of records in 16 states comparing the health of people with serious mental health problems against a comparative sample of the general population. The study found that people diagnosed with serious mental health disorders had more serious health problems (morbidity) and died significantly younger (mortality) than the general population (Parks et al., 2006).

The study found a number of reasons for this disparity in morbidity and mortality. Sixty percent of premature deaths are due to medical conditions such as heart, lung, and infectious diseases that are frequently caused or worsened by controllable lifestyle factors such as physical activity, smoking, access to adequate healthcare and prevention services, diet and nutrition, and substance abuse.

The researchers note that medications, particularly the newer second generation/atypical antipsychotics, are increasingly associated with preventable conditions that contribute to disease and premature death (for example, weight gain, diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome).

The following chart shows data from one state in the study, but it is representative of the data for the other states.

Comorbidity High in Seriously Mentally Ill

A study in Maine comparing an age-matched sample of Medicaid enrollees with and without serious mental illness (SMI) found that the disease rates for the SMI group exceeded those of the non-SMI group in every disease category and that the SMI group had a higher rate of multiple medical conditions.Comorbidity High in Seriously Mentally Ill

View A Read-only Version of this Chart

Source: "Morbidity and Mortality in People With Serious Mental Illness," NASMHPD, October 2006

This report has helped increase awareness by doctors, mental health service providers, families, and consumers about the importance of paying attention to physical health and wellness of people with mental health problems.

For more information:

The following website provides more information about mental health and longevity research.

  • Wellness Summit, Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation: http://cpr.bu.edu/

You can read more about mental health and longevity in these articles and resources.

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