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Treating people with severe and persistent mental illness

...what views do physiotherapists have about their role in managing the health of these people?

The term 'severe and persistent mental illnesses’ can refer to disorders such as schizophrenia spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, and major depression.

Most people with these mental illnesses typically have poor physical health and high rates of comorbid health conditions (such as respiratory and cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity). For example, they are two to three times more likely to have cardiovascular disease, have higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome, and have an estimated 15 to 25 year shorter life expectancy compared with the general population.

Physiotherapists are well trained in managing the musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory conditions that are common among people with severe and persistent mental illness. Despite this, there is evidence that people with these metnal illnesses are not accessing or utilising physiotherapy services for management of their physical health problems.

Physiotherapists interested in this area of healthcare are encouraged to seek out currently available generic professional development opportunities. Furthermore, better undergraduate education of physiotherapists, physiotherapist-specific postgraduate training, and flexibility in health service delivery are believed to be essential steps towards improving the physical health in this important yet overlooked population.

> From: Andrew et al., J Physiother 65 (2019) 222-229 . All rights reserved to Australian Physiotherapy Association. Click here for the online summary.

Want to read deeper into this topic? Have a look at the free full text version of this article published in Journal of Physiotherapy!

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