MENTAL health campaigners in Salisbury are holding day of action to stop people dying 20 years too soon.

The national charity Rethink Mental Illness is marking World Mental Health Day with an event aimed at raising awareness of the physical health needs of people with mental illness.

The event will take place in the Market Placenext Friday, October 12 giving people the opportunity to find out more about how to improve their physical wellbeing. There will also be free sessions of yoga, pilates and taekwondo.

It is part of a national day of action to highlight the fact that people with severe mental illness die on average 20 years younger than the general population, mostly from illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.

Sonia Carr from Rethink Mental Illness said: “Very few people realise that if you have a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, your life expectancy is reduced by around 20 years. People with schizophrenia are twice as likely to die from heart disease, and two to three times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

“But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way, and there are simple steps health professionals can take to tackle this issue. We want to encourage health professionals to use the free resources we’ve developed to look after people’s physical health needs, and start to reduce the number of people with mental illness who are dying needlessly every day”.

The charity will be in the Market Place from 10am to 2pm.