Primary Investigators: Dr Najma Siddiqi (HYMS & Health Sciences, University of York), Jerome Wright, Professor Trevor Sheldon, Professor Kamran Siddiqi, Professor Simon Gilbody, Dr Noreen Mdege, Dr Emily Peckham (Health Sciences, University of York), Professor Rowena Jacobs (Centre for Health Economics, University of York), Professor Rachel Churchill (Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, University of York), Professor Catherine Hewitt (York Trials Unit)
External Collaborators: ARK Foundation, iccdr,b Bangladesh; NIMHANS, Banglaore, India; Institute of Psychiatry, Rawalpindi Medical University, Pakistan; Universities of Dundee, Southampton, Leeds and Kings College London.
People with mental illness die on average 10-20 years earlier than the general population. Studies from low- and middle-income countries also show a similar pattern but with an even greater reduction in life expectancy.
The vast majority of these excess deaths are due to preventable physical health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. Almost all physical conditions are more common and their outcomes are poorer for people with mental illness. Reasons for this include a complex combination of the underlying mental disorder, its treatment, socioeconomic inequalities and crucially, disparities in accessing healthcare and lack of effective treatments.
The physical health of people with mental illness has been largely neglected by health professionals. For example, they do not receive screening for health problems, do not get illnesses such as diabetes diagnosed, or get help to stop smoking. To compound the problem, there has been limited research in this area. Current gaps in knowledge and availability of effective treatments for physical health problems in people with mental illness are simply indefensible and contravene their basic human right to health.
Responding to this complex challenge requires strong international research partnerships and collaborations. We have established a collaboration between policy makers, clinicians and researchers from the UK and South Asia (Bangladesh, India and Pakistan) – the IMPACT Group. The aim is to develop expertise and carry out research to understand how to prevent physical health problems, improve health and improve health services for one of the world’s most vulnerable populations- people with mental illness in South Asia.
The Group held its inaugural meeting in York in July 2017. Delegates included policymakers, researchers and clinicians from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the UK. They committed to working together to increase both the quantity and quality of research and committed resources for pilot projects, which will help support future research. As a first step, we are conducting a survey to improve understanding of the physical health, lifestyle and healthcare needs of people with mental illness in the UK and in South Asia.
For more information, please contact Dr Najma Siddiqi (firstname.lastname@example.org)