Under-75 mortality in adults with serious mental illness

The first domain of the NHS Outcomes Framework requires the NHS to prevent people from dying prematurely. One area for improvement in this domain is to reduce premature deaths in people with serious mental illness.

Do mortality rates for people with serious mental illness differ to those of the general population in England?

Mental Health mortality

Here we are looking at the extent to which adults with a serious mental illness die younger than adults in the general population. For more information about how this is calculated, see 'about these data' below.

The difference in mortality rates between the general population and people under 75 years with serious mental illness is large; being over three times higher than the rest of the population. There has been little progress in reducing this gap over the time period measured.

Updated April 2017.

About this data

Indicator value

The indicator value is the ratio of the directly age-standardised mortality rate for people aged 18 to 74 who are in contact with secondary mental health services to the directly age-standardised mortality rate for the general population of the same age, expressed as a percentage.

The mortality rate in the mental health population is directly standardised to the national population. This is then compared to the national rate using a standardised mortality ratio.
The mental health population is defined as anyone who has been in contact with secondary mental healthcare services in the current financial year, or in either of the two previous financial years, who is alive at the beginning of the current financial year.

This indicator uses data from the mental health minimum dataset, Office of National Statistics (ONS) population estimates and ONS mortality data.

For full indicator specification, please see NHS Outcomes Framework 1.5.


We have known this for a while, yet little traction. We keep focussing on the problems, let's problem solve. Put the management and resourcing of mental & physical health back together. And let's have some equality in the application of rules! When I pay my taxes I pay towards the NHS, not community , acute or mental health separately! I shouldn't have to worry about organisations and their boundaries, and I certainly expect my GP or someone similar to steer me through! Just so fed up of silos and organisational priorities instead of patient priorities!

Ela Pathak-Sen (not verified)
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Dear Ela

Thank you very much for your interest in the project and in particular this indicator. We know these things can sometimes be frustrating and we are planning to do more work to understand how mental health services fit into the broader picture. You can read more about the work both organisations do here: http://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/about/what-we-do, http://www.health.org.uk/about-us/.

Best wishes

QualtyWatch team

QualityWatch Team (not verified)
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I'm trying to understand why we (quite rightly) fund drugs that will extend the life of someone who has cancer by, say 12 months, at £20-30k but don't fund IAPT treatments for people with mental illnesses which cost less and would increase the total quality-adjusted life years by considerably more. It seems doubly unfortunate that a person with a mental illness is not only being left in misery but, if I've got this right, is having his own life shorted because he's 3x more likely to die than a healthy person.

Again, if I understand it correctly, it looks like blatant discrimination.

I'd really appreciate it if someone could explain where I've gone wrong - it can't be as bad as it looks, surely?

Roger Sharp (not verified)
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Dear Roger,

Thank you for your interest in our work. One of our forthcoming Focus On reports will explore the differences in patterns of physical health service use for mental health service users and people who have no record of mental health service use.

Best wishes,
QualityWatch team

QualtyWatch team (not verified)
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Great project. It's good to see this data being presented so clearly - I think we need a frank and honest understanding of the root causes of this and a multi-pronged approach to trying to reduce this gap. An essential start is recognising that these issues are not necessarily easy to solve but that a positive collaborative approach to attempting to solve them is crucial.

Paul Rowlands (not verified)
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