Patients with learning disabilities, personality disorders or dementia were up to nine times more likely to die.
The pandemic has lead to excess deaths in patients with mental health conditions and learning disabilities, according to a new study.
New research published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe shows that between March and June 2020, during the first wave of COVID-19, mortality further increased in people with mental health conditions and intellectual disabilities when compared with the general population.
Researchers at King’s College London analysed anonymised data from more than 160,000 clinical e-records of patients from South London.
They found that deaths from COVID-19 among those with learning disabilities were nine times higher than the general population during the first lockdown period, according to the study, and for those with eating disorders almost five times higher.
For those with personality disorders and those with dementia, deaths from COVID-19 were about four times higher than the general population and more than three times higher in people with schizophrenia.
The study was published in the run-up to World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2021.
A stark picture.
Lead author Dr Jayati Das-Munshi, Reader in Social and Psychiatric Epidemiology at King’s College London and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The results from our study paint a stark picture of how the existing vulnerability of those with mental health conditions and intellectual disabilities have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The higher death rates compared to the general population were associated with more deaths from COVID-19 infection itself, as well as deaths from other causes.
“People living with severe mental health conditions and intellectual disabilities should be considered a vulnerable group at risk of COVID-19 mortality, as well as deaths from other causes, throughout the pandemic.
“We suggest a need to prioritise vaccination and optimise physical health care and suicide risk reduction, before, during and after peaks of COVID-19 infection in people living with mental health conditions.”
Senior author Rob Stewart, Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology & Clinical Informatics at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London, added; “These findings and their implications illustrate the importance of being able to learn from the information contained in health records.