Improving the physical health of people living with severe mental illness (SMI)

22 March, 2024

The NHS has unveiled an initiative aimed at enhancing the physical health of individuals struggling with severe mental illness (SMI).

Recognising the significant health disparities faced by this vulnerable population, the NHS is committed to bridging the gap between physical and mental healthcare.

This new NHS initiative underscores the importance of addressing physical health concerns among SMI patients, as they often face a multitude of complex health challenges, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and respiratory conditions. Despite these pressing issues, SMI patients historically receive inadequate attention in this area.

A multifaceted approach to healthcare

To tackle this issue head-on, the NHS is implementing a multifaceted approach that encompasses various strategies. One key aspect involves integrating physical health checks into routine mental health assessments. By conducting regular screenings and assessments, healthcare professionals can promptly identify any underlying issues and provide appropriate interventions.

Moreover, the initiative emphasises the importance of promoting healthier lifestyles among SMI patients. This includes facilitating access to physical activity programmes, nutritional support, and smoking cessation services. By empowering individuals to make healthier choices, the NHS aims to mitigate the risk factors contributing to poor physical health outcomes.

Furthermore, the NHS is enhancing collaboration between mental health and primary care services to ensure a holistic approach to patient care. By fostering closer partnerships and communication between healthcare providers, SMI patients can receive comprehensive support that addresses both their physical and mental health needs.

Investing in staff training and development

In addition to these proactive measures, the NHS is also investing in staff training and development to equip healthcare professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage the physical health of SMI patients. This includes training programmes focused on health promotion, risk assessment, and the management of long-term conditions.

By prioritising the physical health of individuals with severe mental illness, the NHS aims to improve overall health outcomes and enhance the quality of life for this often-overlooked population. Through collaborative efforts and targeted interventions, the NHS is working towards a future where individuals with severe mental illness receive equitable access to high-quality healthcare services that address both their physical and mental health needs.

In conclusion

The NHS’s initiative to improve the physical health of individuals living with severe mental illness represents a significant step towards achieving health equity and enhancing the well-being of vulnerable populations. Through comprehensive strategies and collaborative efforts, the NHS is poised to make meaningful strides in addressing the complex health challenges faced by SMI patients.

Access the full guidance

NHS Guidance – Improving the physical health of people living with severe mental illness (SMI)