Improving the physical health of people with severe and enduring mental illness

GM CLAHRC is working in collaboration with Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust (MMHSCT) and the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC) on a new project which aims to improve the physical health of people with severe and enduring mental illness.

This project originates from evidence-based research suggesting that people with severe and enduring mental illnesses have a reduced life expectancy of up to 25 years, compared to the general population. This premature mortality is largely due to their poor physical health, unhealthy diet and high smoking prevalence, combined with medication induced weight gain.

The GM CLAHRC will work with MMHSCT to develop and implement a sustainable integrated pathway for users to support the prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and management of physical health problems.

Professor Ruth Boaden, GM CLAHRC Deputy Director, said: “There is evidence to suggest that if people with severe and enduring mental illness are supported with their physical health as well as their mental health, they are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases later in life and potentially lead a healthier lifestyle.

“During this project our knowledge transfer associates and seconded physical health link workers from the North-West Community Mental Health Team, will be putting this evidence into practice by working with GPs and MMHSCT to ensure that the physical health of people with severe and enduring mental illness is well managed”.

Dr Martin Whiting, GP and Chair of North Manchester CCG echoed the importance of addressing the physical health needs of this group of people. “This is a welcome development and something I think practices will want to be involved in. The severely mentally ill are a vulnerable group who find access to routine physical healthcare difficult, have a tendency to disregard their own health, report symptoms late and have a much increased risk of chronic disease. This project should help this group of patients by improving GPs’ communication with community mental health workers.”

Medical Director  at MMHSCT, Dr Sean Lennon said: “We are determined to address this problem by focussing on those aspects of physical health and lifestyle which if changed will result in a much improved lifespan for those who use our services. This work will lead to the identification and implementation of best practice in improving physical health outcomes for people who use our services. We believe that this will demonstrate a model of excellence in this area of practice that can be implemented across our community services and that may be much more widely influential.”

For more information about this project please view the severe mental illness and physical health resources pages or contact Michael Spence.