Physical health assessment for people with a severe mental illness
People with severe mental illness (SMI) have poorer physical health than the general population and die on average 15 to 20 years earlier than people without a mental health condition (HM Government and Department of Health (DH), 2011). This is mostly because of physical health problems that are not diagnosed or managed efficiently (HM Government and DH, 2011). Being in contact with a mental health service does not always mean that people with an SMI have a physical health assessment, have their physical health monitored or receive information, support and lifestyle interventions to improve their overall wellbeing. A group of organisations, including several royal colleges, have produced a report setting out actions to improve the physical health of these patients (Academy of Royal Medical Colleges et al, 2016).
Nurses from all fields have unparalleled opportunities to improve the physical health conditions of SMI patients, both in inpatient and community settings (HM Government and DH, 2011). To make these improvements and ensure parity of esteem between physical and mental health, all nurses must capitalise on every contact they have with people with SMI to improve early detection, evidence-based care and interventions.
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