How mental health affects physical health

A person's mental wellbeing can have an impact on their physical health. This is the view of Chartered Psychologist Dr Sandra Wheatley, who was speaking in response to new research published in the PLoS ONE journal, which suggested serious mental illness can have a marked impact on life expectancy.

The psychologist and author said people need to look at the wider picture with regard to mental and physical health.

She explained individuals who suffer from mental issues are much less likely to take care of themselves from a physical perspective.

It does not require much imagination "to understand that if you are not looking after yourself mentally, you are probably not looking after yourself physically", Dr Wheatley observed.

She added that if a person is receiving the care they need mentally, they still need to look after their body as well.

According to the research, the effect of mental illness on life expectancy is greater than a number of other risks, such as smoking, obesity and diabetes.