The connection between mental and physical health
Physical health problems significantly increase the risk of poor mental health, and vice versa.
Around 30 per cent of all people with a long-term physical health condition also have a mental health problem, most commonly depression/anxiety (1).
Mental health problems can seriously exacerbate physical illness, affecting outcomes and the cost of treatment. The effect of poor mental health on physical illnesses is estimated to cost the NHS at least £8 billion a year (2).
Medically unexplained physical symptoms often have a basis in poor mental health and are estimated to cost the NHS £3 billion each year (3).
People with severe mental illnesses also have significantly higher rates of physical illness – with a dramatic effect on life-expectancy.
Overlap between long-term conditions and mental health problems in England
Source: Naylor C, Parsonage M, McDaid D, Knapp M, Fossey M, Galea A (2012). Report. Long-term conditions and mental health. The cost of co- morbiditiesThe King's Fund and Centre for Mental Health
A substantial unmet need for mental health care
The prevalence of most adult mental health problems has remained roughly constant over the past 20 years. However, there is evidence that child mental health problems have become more common.
Prevalence of mental health problems in England
Source: Adult figures: Green H, McGinnity A, Meltzer H, Ford T, Goodman R (2005). Report. Mental health of children and young people in Great Britain. Crown Copyright. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Children figures: McManus S, Meltzer H, Brugha T, Bebbington P, Jenkins R (2009). Research paper. Adult Psychiatry Morbidity in England, 2007: Results of a household survey. Leeds: NHS Information Centre.
Prolonged economic instability can be expected to increase demand for mental health services, as there is a close link between unemployment, debt and mental health problems – particularly depression and anxiety (4).
Time trends in prevalence of depression/anxiety disorders in England
Source: Maybin J and Thorlby R (2010). Report. A high performing NHS? A review of progress 1997- 2010 The King’s Fund
Services are not currently meeting existing levels of demand
Many of those with diagnosable mental health problems receive no formal treatment, which raises the question of whether current service models are fit for purpose and whether resourcing is adequate.
- Barnett K, Mercer SW, Norbury M, Watt G, Wyke S, Guthrie B (2012). Research paper. Epidemiology of multimorbidity and implications for health care, research, and medical education: a cross-sectional study The Lancet online
- Naylor C, Parsonage M, McDaid D, Knapp M, Fossey M, Galea A (2012). Report. Long-term conditions and mental health. The cost of co- morbiditiesThe King's Fund and Centre for Mental Health
- Bermingham et al (2010). Research paper. The cost of somatisation among the working-age population in England for the year 2008–09’. Mental Health in Family Medicine Vol 7, no 2, pp 71–84
- Bungum T (2012). Research paper. The Impact of Unemployment on Mental and Physical Health, Access to Health Care and Health Risk Behaviors. ISRN Public Health 10.5402/2012/483432