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Southern Health 70 years of the NHS; 1948 - 2018
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Mental Health, Physical Health

As a Trust, we are committed to improving the physical health and wellbeing of people with serious mental illness and learning disability.

For example, we know that people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder die on average 15-20 years earlier than the general population. They are also three times more likely to attend emergency departments with an urgent physical health need and almost five times more likely to be admitted as an emergency.

There are a number of reasons for this. People with severe mental illness are more likely to experience heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and infections. They also have higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption and drug misuse. 

It is also recognised that people with serious mental illness often experience difficulties in accessing physical health care due to reduced motivation, and as a consequence of stigma or ‘diagnostic overshadowing’.

Metabolic Syndrome

People with mental health problems are likely to be exposed to a combination of different risk factors and have a higher level of metabolic syndrome and co-morbidities than the general population.

The physical health conditions making up metabolic syndrome include:

  • Obesity

  • High blood pressure

  • Raised blood sugar levels

  • Abnormal cholesterol levels


Individually, these health conditions can cause damage, but three or more together are particularly dangerous, and increase the risk of serious and life threatening illnesses including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Below are information sheets for further information and resources on:

The Lester Tool

The Lester tool is a cardio-metabolic health resource used as an intervention framework.  

It helps clinicians to assess the cardiovascular health of patients with a serious mental illness and recommends the best course of intervention and treatment – including thresholds for intervention. 

It brings together advice from a number of NICE guidelines and is also designed to take into account the impact of anti-psychotic medication on an increased risk of CVD in people with serious mental illness.

Click here to find out more.