People with mental disorders and intellectual disabilities experience excess mortality compared with the general population. The impact of COVID-19 on exacerbating this, and in widening ethnic inequalities, is unclear.
Prospective data (N=167,122) from a large mental healthcare provider in London, UK, with deaths from 2019 to 2020, used to assess age- and gender-standardised mortality ratios (SMRs) across nine psychiatric conditions (schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, affective disorders, somatoform/ neurotic disorders, personality disorders, learning disabilities, eating disorders, substance use disorders, pervasive developmental disorders, dementia) and by ethnicity.
Prior to the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring COVID-19 a public health emergency on 30th January 2020, all-cause SMRs across all psychiatric cohorts were more than double the general population. By the second quarter of 2020, when the UK experienced substantial peaks in COVID-19 deaths, all-cause SMRs increased further, with COVID-19 SMRs elevated across all conditions (notably: learning disabilities: SMR: 9.24 (95% CI: 5.98-13.64), pervasive developmental disorders: 5.01 (95% CI: 2.40-9.20), eating disorders: 4.81 (95% CI: 1.56-11.22), schizophrenia-spectrum disorders: 3.26 (95% CI: 2.55-4.10), dementia: 3.82 (95% CI: 3.42, 4.25) personality disorders 4.58 (95% CI: 3.09-6.53)). Deaths from other causes remained at least double the population average over the whole year. Increased SMRs were similar across ethnic groups.
People with mental disorders and intellectual disabilities were at a greater risk of deaths relative to the general population before, during and after the first peak of COVID-19 deaths, with similar risks by ethnicity. Mortality from non-COVID-19/ other causes was elevated before/ during the pandemic, with higher COVID-19 mortality during the pandemic.