A new study published in BMJ Mental Health has found that individuals with severe mental illness are almost twice as likely to report physical multimorbidity, emphasizing the critical importance of addressing the intersection between mental and physical health.
The research, led by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in collaboration with the University of Cambridge’s Biomedical Research Centre, involved an extensive analysis of 19 different studies, encompassing data from 194,123 psychiatric patients across the world, with a comparison to 7,660,590 individuals in control groups.
Multimorbidity is when a person is affected by any combination of chronic disease with at least one other physical health condition, and the researchers found the psychiatric patients were 1.84 times more likely to report multimorbidity than the control group.
The study found that people with severe mental health issues also report physical conditions including metabolic diseases, hypertension, epilepsy, respiratory, vascular, kidney, and gastrointestinal diseases, as well as cancer.
As of 2019, nearly one billion people were living with a mental disorder, making it a leading cause of disability worldwide. According to Mind, one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.
Previous research has found that a large percentage of individuals in need of mental health services lack access to effective, affordable, and quality mental healthcare, especially in low-income countries. For instance, 71% of individuals with psychosis worldwide do not receive necessary mental health services, with a vast disparity between high-income and low-income countries.