In the news this week: it looks like mild mental illness could have more serious consequences than was previously believed. British Medical Journal research findings from a study into the link between mild mental illness and mortality has found that mild forms of mental illness such as anxiety or depression can heighten the risk of an individual dying early.

According to the study, even the lowest (sub-clinical) levels of these forms of mental illness can increase the risk of dying by 16%, while only people who had the highest levels of stress were at more risk from cancer.

All of which should – hopefully – raise awareness of mental illness and encourage people to find out more about coping strategies for it. There are good resources available online such as those provided by mental health charities, for instance http://www.sane.org.uk/ and http://www.mind.org.uk/

It’s estimated that one in four of the population suffers from the milder forms mental illness, so the increased health risk is something that will hopefully be looked into in greater detail now that the BMJs findings have been released.

And according to the research, the stronger a form of mental illness, the greater risk of mortality, with people suffering from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia dying up to 20 years younger than average.

Mild mental illness has been described by the charity Mind as “the elephant in the room” – meaning that it’s a major  issue that’s not addressed as fully as it should be. And with these recent findings, it looks like the elephant just got that little bit bigger.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Let us know in the comments…

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