Researchers call for action to end mental health related deaths

16 May 2023
gone too soon scaled image
Researchers have called for radical changes on a global scale to prevent the growing mortality rates of people with mental health problems

A study, published in Lancet Psychiatry, and involving 40 global experts, including researchers at the University of York, revealed the factors that increased early mortality for people with mental health conditions. 

These included deaths linked to traumatic life events, unemployment, stigma and marginalisation, lack of meaningful societal relationships, and poor access to healthcare, education, housing, and income security. 

Researchers set out 18 recommendations in the study, which include delivering integrated healthcare, community-based interventions, restriction of access to lethal means of suicide, reduction of inequalities as well as increased investment in mental health services and research.  

Professor Simon Gilbody, Director of the Mental Health and Addictions Research Group (MHARG) at Hull York Medical School, the University of York, said: "We were honoured to join forces with research leaders from around the world in preparing this landmark report. York has been at the forefront of research to tackle this major health inequality. The Gone Too Soon report places mental health on the same page as physical health, and we have used our research intelligence to inform the key recommendations. 

"Our specific contribution was to help tackle the epidemic of tobacco-related harms in mental health services. This contributes to the 20-year health gap at the heart of this report." 

The study, led by MQ Mental Health Research and funded by The William Templeton Foundation for Young People’s Mental Health, offers a practical roadmap for implementing the solutions, but researchers are keen to point out that any solutions must be co-designed by people with lived and living experience of mental illnesses in order to be successful. The report of the study was co-produced by researchers alongside many people with first-hand and family experience of mental illness. 

Professor Rory O’Connor, Director of the Suicidal Behaviour Research Laboratory at Glasgow University, said: "Globally, too many people die prematurely from suicide and the physical health problems associated with mental illness and mental distress.  

"For this first time, we have brought together a multidisciplinary global team of academic, policy, clinical, and lived and living experience experts with the specific aim of understanding the driving forces behind these deaths together with what needs to be done to tackle this public health crisis."