People with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, die 10-25 years earlier than people in the general population, largely due to preventable medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. A new book by the Brown School’s Leopoldo J. Cabassa, PhD examines the reasons for these inequities and suggests ways to reduce or eliminate them. “Addressing Health Inequities in People with Serious Mental Illness: A Call to Action,” published by Oxford University Press, is the first book by Cabassa, a professor and co-director of the Center for Mental Health Services Research who focuses on mental health. The book has been more than a decade in the making.
“This book is deeply personal for me,” said Cabassa, who is Puerto Rican and has seen first-hand the impact of mental illness in his family, as well as the “double burden” faced by racial and ethnic minorities with serious mental illness. For more than 10 years, Cabassa has been researching the impact of mental illness and listening to the people who are affected. “I wanted to write a book for the general public that brings science, data, and people’s stories together to examine why these inequities are happening and what we can do about it,” he said. “These are the stories of people coping with these health issues and of the clinicians, researchers and policy makers working on the front lines to reduce these health inequities.”