The article below originally appeared in the San Francisco Business Times and is being reprinted with permission.

San Mateo County Health System said Monday it’s won a $2 million federal grant to bolster primary care and behavioral health services for individuals with mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

The funds, awarded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will be used to improve access and use of primary care, specialty care and wellness programs, and to deliver primary and behavioral health care services at two county mental health clinics, county officials said.

“As a nation, we grapple with the harsh reality that persons with mental illness are dying 25 years earlier than the rest of the population” said Louise Rogers, the county’s director of behavioral health and recovery services.

Officials said preventable health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and asthma lead to three out of five deaths among people with serious mental illnesses. These conditions are often made worse by a lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, smoking and the side effects of psychotropic medications administered to control mental health problems.

The county’s behavioral health unit and its partners, including the San Mateo Medical Center and Primary Care Clinics, Health Plan of San Mateo, University of California at San Francisco, College of San Mateo, and Stanford University, will carry out the work funded by the grant over the next four years.