Campaign aims to close life-expectancy gap for people with mental ill health

Equally Well UK campaign wants to spur on organisations to tackle 'shocking' health inequality 

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The gap in life expectancy of up 20 years for people in the UK with severe mental illness is being targeted by a project called Equally Well UK.

Charities Centre for Mental Health and Rethink Mental Illness and health consultancy Kaleidoscope Health and Care will attempt to use the project to tackle reasons for poorer physical health in people with mental health problems. They want any organisation that supports the physical health of people with a mental illness to participate.

The RCN, the Mental Health Nurses Association and NHS England are among organisations being asked to make a pledge about how they will help reduce the health gap.

Movement for change

Project partners will meet in September to produce a 'charter for equal health', to demonstrate their commitment to lasting change.

Equally Well UK is based on a New Zealand scheme that has brought together more than 100 organisations.

Most of the life expectancy gap for people with mental illness is caused by poor physical health – they are more likely to smoke, be obese, and have a long-term physical condition.

Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said: ‘The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health committed the NHS to take action to tackle this shocking inequality. Equally Well UK will help to make that happen by concerted action across boundaries, sharing stories of what works and building a nationwide movement for change.’

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