This guidance focuses on the need for all agencies to work together, in collaboration with services users, families and carers to improve the physical health of people experiencing mental illness. The guidance responds to the published commitment (2006):
"We will improve the physical health of those with severe and enduring mental illness by ensuring that every such patient, where possible and appropriate, has a physical health assessment at least once every 15 months."
This guidance offers 7 deliverable recommendations for change and improvement; the context in which they are set; linked initiatives; some practice examples already underway; and the evidence base.
The guidance is aimed at clinicians and service providers from mental health and primary care (general practice), the wider NHS (general hospitals and others), local authority and voluntary sector organisations who regularly care for people with mental health problems.
Attention to the physical health of those with a mental health problem is driven by the need for systematic support for those with long-term conditions, a reduction in health inequality and better management of care. This applies across service user and carer contacts, in health, social services and other settings.
Successful delivery of the recommendations made rely on health, local authority and other agencies working together and on the ongoing participation and engagement of people experiencing mental illness and their carers. Engagement should recognise communication needs and information should be provided in accessible formats on request.
Clinicians and other care providers are invited to consider the full range of available therapies and other interventions for an integrated appropriate response to individual needs.
All approaches must take account of equality and diversity issues to ensure compliance with Disability Discrimination legislation. For example there may be specific issues to address with regard to disability, sensory need, language, cultural, ethnic or gender related issues, and the particular needs of socially excluded groups. All prevention care and support approaches should be designed and delivered in a non stigmatising, non discriminating way which values people, promotes equality and encourages the individual towards effective self management, better physical health and improved wellbeing.
Promotion and maintenance of physical wellbeing should ensure that approaches are tailored to individual need.