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Serious mental illnesses reduce life expectancy by 10 to 20 years, an analysis by Oxford University psychiatrists has shown – a loss of years that's equivalent to or worse than that for heavy smoking.

Oxford researchers say their figures on life expectancy should galvanise governments and health and social services to put a much higher priority on how mental health services can prevent early deaths.

Mental health has not seen the same public health priority as smoking, say the Oxford scientists, despite these stark figures and the similar prevalence of mental health problems.

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