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The risk of cardiovascular disease is increased in patients with severe mental illness (SMI) dramatically reducing life expectancy.
A real world pragmatic service evaluation of a Well-Being Support Program (WSP) was conducted. This was a four-session package delivered over a one-year period by mental health practitioners that had received additional training in providing physical health assessment and intervention. Patients' physical health was screened and appropriate one-to-one and group intervention was offered.
212 mental health practitioners were trained in the WSP and 782 patients were enrolled on the program. The majority of our sample was overweight or obese; 66% had a Body Mass Index (BMI) >25. Lifestyle risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) were common and the patients had low self esteem. The average number of formally recorded well-being sessions attended was 2.10. Just under a quarter of those patients enrolled in the program completed. The only cardiovascular risk factor that significantly altered in patients that completed the program was BMI. The qualitative feedback about the program was largely positive.
The need to intervene to enhance the physical health of people with SMI is beyond doubt. Maintaining patient engagement in a physical health improvement program is challenging. Regular comprehensive physical health monitoring is necessary to establish the benefit of intervention and increase life expectancy and well-being in this population.