Severe mental illness (SMI) affects somewhere between one in one hundred and one in two hundred adults. People with severe mental illness, like schizophrenia, psychosis or bipolar disorder, often experience poorer health and, as a result, die sooner than others. Psychotic illnesses can have a profound effect on people and their families, and appropriate and effective interventions are needed.
Forward Thinking provides an overview of recent published research, funded by the NIHR, on support for people living with SMI. These studies address particular uncertainties and evidence gaps identified by those working in and using these services. It also highlights research currently taking place to inform the support and care of people with severe mental illness.
This report reminds us of the significant disadvantages faced by many people with
severe mental illnesses (SMI) – with difficulties in gaining and keeping employment, in
maintaining stable relationships and receiving a decent income. They also face distinct
inequalities when it comes to their mental and physical health, both in terms of having
timely access to evidence-based mental health treatment and a experiencing a greater likelihood of poor nutrition, obesity and smoking-related diseases – all of which can and do contribute to premature mortality. Our intention is to change this as we implement the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. With significantly increased investment in both the mental and physical health of people with SMI, we aim to not only help people with SMI quickly access evidence-based, NICE-concordant mental health care; we also want them to access NICE-concordant physical health care, to secure gainful and meaningful employment and for services across a range of sectors to work together to help improve their clinical and social outcomes in such a way that they have the same opportunities to live healthy, full and fulfilling lives like anyone else. In our view, we can no longer accept women and men with SMI struggling to access the high-quality care and support they ought to receive during their lifetime and dying 15 to 20 years before they should.
The findings set out in this useful research review will support this drive to improve care – and, indeed, lives – and we commend the report to you.
Director of Mental Health, NHS England
Professor Tim Kendall
National Clinical Director for Mental Health, NHS England