Mortality rate more than 5 times higher for people with serious mental illnesses in Milton Keynes

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People with serious mental illnesses in Milton Keynes face a mortality rate more than five times higher than their peers, new figures suggest.

The Mental Health Foundation said the numbers are not "out of the blue" as people with serious mental illnesses are often significantly disadvantaged.

Figures from the NHS show 540 people with serious mental illness died in Milton Keynes between 2020 and 2022.

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Considering the total 44,204 people in contact with secondary mental health services since 2015 in the area, it meant they faced a mortality rate of 1,800 deaths per 100,000 people.

Figures from the NHS show 540 people with serious mental illness died in Milton Keynes between 2020 and 2022Figures from the NHS show 540 people with serious mental illness died in Milton Keynes between 2020 and 2022
Figures from the NHS show 540 people with serious mental illness died in Milton Keynes between 2020 and 2022

This is 5.2 times the mortality rate of people without mental illnesses – 346 deaths per 100,000.

Dr David Crepaz‑Keay, Mental Health Foundation head of research and applied learning, said there are many factors that lead to the shorter life expectancy and higher mortality rate of people with serious mental illnesses.

He said: "There is anything between a 15 to 20 year drop in life expectancy for a diagnosis for schizophrenia, for example, but it is not about the condition itself being life shortening. It is down to other factors."

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He added high levels of smoking, increased likelihood of using unprescribed drugs and poor sleep may also all play a role.

"But probably more likely than that is the socio-economic determinants associated with poverty," he added.

"By any measure, people with these diagnoses are much more likely to be unemployed, more likely to be living alone, and more likely to be poor. We know all of those have a health impact."

The figures show those with serious mental health conditions across England were 2.3 times more likely to die from cancer, 3.9 times more likely to die from heart disease, 6.3 times more likely to die from respiratory disease, and 6.6 times more likely to die from liver disease.

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In Milton Keynes, there was a significant difference in deaths caused by liver disease – with a mortality rate of 123 deaths per 100,000 people.

Meanwhile, those with no mental illness had a mortality rate of 16 deaths per 100,000 – meaning those with a serious mental illness were 7.5 times as likely to die.

Dr Crepaz-Keay said the increased rate is not "out of the blue" as the group has "never been seen as a high priority".

He added: "It is a group that are significantly disadvantaged, and it is almost inevitable that that will at some point show up in poorer health outcomes."

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While progress has been made in treatment, he said further support for research and a stronger political will to improve the health of those with mental illnesses is needed.

> Suicide is preventable and support is available, such as Samaritans’ helpline. When life is difficult, Samaritans are there – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123 or email them at [email protected]

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