Improving physical health in people with mental illness
People with severe and persistent mental illness (including conditions such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders, bipolar disorder and major depression) have up to 20 years shorter life expectancy than the general population. This is mostly due to poor physical health, rather than direct consequences of mental illness.
Substantial evidence supports the benefits and use of physical activity in the treatment and management of people with mental illness, but physical activity levels in this population remain low.
A recent qualitative study interviewed mental health professionals and people with severe and persistent mental illness to investigate barriers to uptake of physiotherapy to improve physical health.
One barrier was limited understanding of physiotherapy by staff and patients in mental health.
Structural barriers to referral for physiotherapy were also identified, such as insufficient funding or perceived poor preparedness/ receptivity of external physiotherapy services to deal with people with severe mental illness. Finally, patient-specific barriers to referral were present, such as cost and transport.
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> From: Lee, J Physiother 63 (2017) 168-174. All rights reserved to the Australian Physiotherapy Association. Click here for the online summary.