The physical health inequalities for people living with mental illness are one of the biggest injustices of our time. Currently, people with severe mental illness have a shorter life expectancy than the rest of the population by around 15–20 years.
This is largely because they are affected by preventable physical health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. To help improve the physical health of people living with mental illness, we continue to advocate for changes to the health system so everyone receives the support they need to live active and healthy lives.
We work to ensure that the voices of people who have experience of mental health issues are at the heart of developing the solutions that are needed. This includes getting them involved with the work of Equally Well UK.
What is Equally Well?
Equally Well UK is a collaborative initiative hosted by the Centre for Mental Health in partnership with Rethink Mental Illness, working to improve the physical health of people living with mental illness. The initiative is jointly governed by a Clinical Group made up of representatives from the Royal College Medical Colleges and chaired by Professor Wendy Burn, and an Expert by Experience Group supported and facilitated by Rethink Mental Illness and chaired by Expert by Experience Kevin James.
The collaborative has a growing membership of Clinical Commissioning Groups, Mental Health Trusts and VCSE organisations. All members are required to sign a co-produced Charter for Equal Health and provide an individual organisational pledge to play a part in addressing health inequalities for people with mental illness, and to share intelligence and ideas.
The collaborative’s work focuses on health weight management and smoking cessation - the two areas that most affect people living with mental illness’ physical health.
It also works in other areas including oral health, and most recently with NHS England/Improvement and Physical Health England to support and encourage people living with mental illness to take up the flu and Covid-19 vaccines.
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