Improving the physical health of people with mental illness
Those who suffer from mental illness have greater risk of, and higher rates of, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and infections. They also have higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption and drug misuse. They die younger and have a poorer quality of life. This is unacceptable.
GPs are paid for managing illnesses such as schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and dementia, including making sure that physical health issues are addressed. We want to intervene early in the management of physical health problems of those with mental illness to prevent deterioration in their health and act to prevent physical health problems occurring in the first place. Often, many people who have severe mental illness experience difficulties accessing services appropriate to their physical health care, prevention and health promotion needs. This requires a different and more targeted response to treating this group's physical health problems, and promoting their overall health.
Commitment 5: 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.
We will also ensure that people with severe and enduring mental illness have equity of access to health promotion and prevention services and the full range of free prevention services available to the general population. This means providing services in a way that is responsive to the needs of people with mental illness. This will include general health promotion advice and support, particularly in relation to diet, nutrition, exercise, alcohol consumption, drug misuse and sexual health.
We also want to make sure that people with mental illness also get access to the wide range of services and supports available for those who wish to give up smoking. As well as this we will also work towards ensuring that we increase people's access to free dental and optical examinations and relevant immunisations such as annual flu vaccinations.
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