People with mental ill-health typically have a shorter life expectancy than the general population due to physical health conditions that could be prevented, such as heart disease and some cancers.
Symptoms such as lack of energy or motivation, anxiety, or distress can make it more difficult for young people with mental ill-health to be physically active, maintain healthy eating habits or generally look after their physical wellbeing. Also, some medications used to treat mental ill-health can cause a range of side effects that affect short and long term physical health, for example weight gain, poorer dental health or fatigue.
Sexual health is an important part of physical health and development of young people. Young people with mental ill-health can be at a higher risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) for a number of reasons. They may have less impulse control, use sex as a coping mechanism to manage their symptoms, or they might not fully understand the risks involved in having unprotected sex. Symptoms of mental ill health and side effects of medication can also have detrimental effects on sexual health. That’s why it’s important that we think about not only a young person’s mental health, but also their physical and sexual health too.