Kate Scott, PhD is Professor of Psychological Medicine in the Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand. She trained as a clinical psychologist in New Zealand and then obtained a doctorate in psychology from Cambridge University, UK. Kate is a senior investigator in the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys Consortium, the largest cross-national study of the epidemiology of mental disorders with around 150,000 participants in 30+ low, middle and high income countries. She is author of over 100 publications and an editor of two of the six books on the WMH Surveys published by Cambridge University Press.
A major part of Kate’s research has focused on the epidemiological links between mental and physical ill-health, documenting the higher risk of developing chronic physical conditions like heart disease or diabetes among people with a history of mental disorder. Lifestyle is likely a major contributor to these associations as people with mental disorders are known to have suboptimal lifestyle in many respects (e.g., higher rates of smoking, alcohol/drug use, obesity, poor sleep, lack of exercise, high stress). Poor diet and lifestyle can also contribute to the development of mental health problems. In fact, the prevalence of mental disorders like depression and anxiety varies across countries in a pattern that is very similar to that of heart disease (that is, higher prevalence in high income countries). Common features of diet and lifestyle in high income countries may underpin the high prevalence of both mental disorders and chronic physical conditions in these countries.