'Ten years of life lost for mentally ill’

People diagnosed with a mental disorder can still expect to live up to 10 years less than those who aren't unless more is done to close the life expectancy gap, an Australian researcher says.

Analysis of Danish medical and hospital data from 1994 to 2014, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, shows the mortality gap between people with mental disorders and the general population hasn't decreased.

"Ten years of life expectancy are lost for those with mental illness," said lead researcher Associate Professor Annette Erlangsen at the Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention.

The article has been published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

According to the research, men with a diagnosed psychiatric illness on average live 10.2 years less than those who aren't, and women 7.3 years.

While the mortality gap overall remained the same, the causes of death have changed, according to the study.

The mortality gap between people with mental disorders and the general population hasn't decreased.

The mortality gap between people with mental disorders and the general population hasn't decreased.

Co-author Associate Professor Vladimir Canudas-Romo of the ANU School of Demography said while suicide, homicide and accidents (such as car crashes) were major contributing factors in the gap, those causes of death had seen some decline over the 20-year period.

"Cancer and health issues such as diabetes and heart disease are now playing a bigger role," said Associate Professor Canudas-Romo.

The analysis also detected a marked increase in the number of alcohol-related deaths.

"Deaths involving alcohol still account for the major share of the life years lost among people with mental disorders over the past two decades," Associate Professor Canudas-Romo said.

The research team has called on governments to address the mortality gap by implementing more holistic approaches to dealing with mental illness.

"It is not enough to be simply prescribing some medicine and sending them on their way," said Assoc Prof Canudas-Romo.