South Asia’s silent struggle: people with severe mental illness suffer high burden of physical illness

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Severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression with psychosis are conditions that can make it hard for people to carry out their daily activities. The high proportion of physical health conditions in people with of severe mental illness (SMI) is causing havoc on the lives of people with SMI in South Asia. The gravity of the situation is truly alarming as those with SMI are dying 10 to 20 years earlier than the general population, and the gap is only widening (Liu et al, 2017). While suicide is a contributing factor, an astonishing 80% of premature deaths are attributed to physical health problems, predominantly non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes (Chan et al, 2021), hypercholesterolemia and hypertension.

This blog takes a deep dive into this alarming reality, highlighting the factors contributing to the excess disease burden from physical multimorbidity in individuals with SMI. From health risk behaviours to barriers in accessing healthcare, we explore the complex web of challenges faced by this vulnerable population.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherNational Elf Service
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2023


  • Severe mental illness
  • South Asia
  • SMI
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorders
  • Blog
  • Mental Health

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