Mental health must be “at the heart” of the upcoming public health white paper, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has said.

The college has published evidence it says shows that public health strategies cannot afford to ignore mental health.

Its position statement, No Health Without Public Mental Health, says people with mental health problems are more likely to have numerous other issues that lead to demand in the health service.

It says: “Poor mental health is associated with other priority public health conditions such as obesity, alcohol misuse and smoking, and with diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

“Poor physical health also increases the risk of mental illness.”

The college said that mental health must be taken into account in the public health white paper, due in December.

Royal College of Psychiatrists president Professor Dinesh Bhugra said: “Historically, government public health strategies have concentrated on physical health and overlooked the importance of both mental illness and mental wellbeing. But there is no health without mental health.

“Including mental health at the heart of the public health agenda will improve people’s lifestyles and reduce health-risk behaviours, thereby both preventing physical illness and reducing the burden of mental illness on society.”

Responding to the report, care services minister Paul Burstow said: “The government is clear that there is no health without mental health. That is why we will publish both a public health white paper and mental health strategy that will break new ground.

“If the right action is taken early in people’s lives, it’s possible to make a big difference. The right support at the right time can help people realise their potential, cope with adversity and hold down a job.  This is good for the individual and good for society too.”