Mental health nurses meeting consumers’ physical health care needs

Factors contributing to premature mortality of people with SMI

Project details

People with severe mental illness (SMI) such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder experience higher prevalence of co-occurring physical health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases (i.e., heart attack and stroke) compared with the general population.

NorthWestern Mental Health mental health worker

Consumers’ poorer physical health can result in a substantially lower life expectancy. In some instances, this is 20 years less than the general population. The higher incidence of co-occurring conditions and lower life expectancy are caused in part by factors such as smoking, being inactive, and poor diet. These are linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes. 

There is an obvious and urgent need to address this issue and improve the quality, safety, and impact of mental health care. This research will report on physical health and mental health factors for NWMH consumers who died of natural causes between 2009 and 2018.

Research outcomes

It is anticipated the findings of the research will assist mental health clinicians to assess for health risk, and findings can be used to inform targeted evidence-based interventions to enhance consumers’ quality of life and life expectancy.


Joanne Suggett, NWMH & Dr Trentham Furness


  • Professor Kim Foster
  • Dr Vinay Lakra, NWMH


  • NorthWestern Mental Health Seed Funding Grant


NorthWestern Mental Health