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Mental health and wellbeing

People with severe mental illness (SMI) often have poorer physical health than the general population as they are more likely to experience unnecessary health inequalities and are unable to access the physical healthcare they need.

To help address these inequalities, City, University of London mental health researcher Dr Chris Flood contributed to a Department of Health report for mental health nurses which aims to improve physical health and wellbeing of people with severe mental health problems.

Researchers from Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Health Education England, Professor Sally Hardy from London South Bank University, and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust also contributed to the report along with Dr Ben Thomas and colleagues from the Department of Health.

Many psychiatric medicines, antipsychotics in particular, are associated with increased risk of metabolic syndromes such as obesity and high blood pressure too.

In particular people with severe mental illness are particularly at risk and die on average 15-20 years earlier than the general population. This is mostly due to physical health problems which are often not diagnosed or managed efficiently and lifestyle factors which negatively affect physical health.

However, mental health nurses have unparalleled opportunities to help people improve their physical health alongside their mental health, both in inpatient settings and in the community.

In particular there are some key areas for action to improve health outcomes have been identified. Each of these areas is associated with particular risk factors that can have a detrimental effect on physical health and reduce life expectancy:

  • Support to quit smoking
  • Tackling obesity and improving physical activity levels
  • Reducing alcohol and substance use
  • Sexual and reproductive health
  • Medicine optimisation

Read the full article on the Medical Xpress website