Young people with psychosis urged to ‘get physical’

A newbooklet has been produced to help young people experiencing psychosis for thefirst time look after their physical health and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Developedby The Psychosis Research Unit (PRU) at Greater Manchester West Mental HealthNHS Foundation Trust (GMW), the booklet is for use by young people withpsychosis, and those who care for them.

Thebooklet, which was officially unveiled at the launch of the Royal College ofPsychiatrist’s Early Intervention in Psychosis Network on the 21 March,includes useful questions for young people and their friends and family to asktheir healthcare professional so they can get help with stopping smoking, reducingtheir alcohol consumption and making positive adjustments to their diet andlifestyle.

It alsoaims to raise awareness of the need for routine checks (like blood, weight andcholesterol) that they are entitled to receive which might detect symptoms of physicalhealth conditions earlier.

This isreally important as the risk of developing future illnesses like heart attacks,strokes and diabetes is two or three times higher for people experiencingpsychosis. These physical illnesses tend to occur at a younger age and are themain reason why people who experience psychosis can be expected to live 15-20years less than people without psychosis.

DrDavid Shiers, Honorary Research Consultant for the PRU at GMW, said: “It hasbeen my mission over the last eight years to tackle the premature mortality ofpeople with psychosis. There needs to be a more holistic awareness of thecondition and its potential impact on physical health and quality of life. Andthe best opportunity to prevent future poor health is in the early phase ofpsychosis.

“Thereis a lot that can be done to ensure that people with mental health conditionslike psychosis receive the physical healthcare they’re entitled and thisbooklet aims to raise awareness of how people experiencing psychosis for thefirst time can work with their health team, so they don’t leave their physicalhealth to chance.”

Dr AlanQuirk, Senior Programme Manager (Audits & Research), Royal College ofPsychiatrists’ Centre for Quality Improvement, said: “This is a brilliantand very accessible resource. Greater Manchester West Mental HealthNHS Foundation Trust and its Psychosis ResearchUnit have created an innovative way to drive up the quality of physicalhealth care offered by empowering service users and their families tofind out how health professionals can help them to live healthier lives.

“Thistool has the potential to be truly beneficial through raisingpeople’s expectations about the physical health care they shouldreceive and by helping shared decision-making to become areality.”

DrJackie Curtis, Clinical Director, Youth Mental Health, South EasternSydney LHD, Conjoint Senior Lecturer UNSW, Australia, said:”Congratulations to all those involved in producing this resource.I think this may be the most important element so far to our‘toolkit’ of the Lester and HeAL initiative – as it will raise expectations andimprove shared decision making and ultimately improve lives and lifeexpectancy.”

Thebooklet can be downloaded for free from the Trust’s website – https://www.gmw.nhs.uk/focus-on-psychosis.If you would like to be sent a copy, please contact the Psychosis Research Uniton Tel: 0161 358 1395 or email:info@psychosisresearch.com.