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Physical health care in mental illness

CPD Hours



All Modules
Mental health
Community and primary health care


Research has shown that people diagnosed with mental health problems, particularly patients with serious mental illness, are at a much-increased risk for physical diseases such as diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular conditions.

Unfortunately, people with severe mental illness die, on average, 15-20 years earlier than the general population.

Despite requiring additional care, physical health conditions in this group are generally underdiagnosed and not managed effectively. Screening and monitoring are also neglected.

In addition, mental health patients frequently lack support in addressing lifestyle-related risk factors and they experience access disparities to health care (see Nursing, Midwifery and AHPs [5]; Corscadden L et al [1]).

In this module we introduce the different dimensions of health and discuss how mental and physical health interact. Subsequently, the origins of poor physical health in people with psychiatric conditions are summarised.

We then discuss the components of integrated care for assessing, protecting, and improving the physical health of persons suffering from mental illness. Finally, we look at practical techniques for nurses aiming to support patients in making healthier lifestyles choices.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Describe the components of physical health and how it interacts with mental health.
  • Explain the importance of physical health care in patients suffering from mental illness.
  • Discuss the origins of poor physical health in people with psychiatric conditions.
  • Understand the provision of integrated care for people with mental illness.

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