Mind and Body

Bringing together physical and mental healthcare treatment to address mortality rates

Maudsley Charity is supporting a 3-year project to bring together mental and physical health treatment, and address the mortality gap for those with mental illness. Part of the Mind and Body Programme at King’s Health Partners, it is a partnership between South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), King’s College London, and Guy’s & St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital NHS Trusts.

Integrating our Mental and Physical Healthcare Systems

The Integrating our Mental and Physical Healthcare Systems (IMPHS) project will focus on improving the physical health of patients with serious mental illnesses at SLaM. The physical health of someone with a mental illness is often poorer than someone without.

The average life expectancy for someone with a long-term mental illness or learning disability is 15 to 20 years shorter than someone without.

These patients can be affected by a number of different issues related to how they access and engage with physical healthcare. For this reason, the project will be delivered through three streams, tackling the issue in hospital, in the community, and at home.

Support for physical health issues in in-patient settings

The first stream will focus on new training and tools for staff, to improve support for the physical health of patients who are being treated at SLaM. It will build better relationships between local general hospitals and GPs. Physical and mental health services will be integrated in new ways, to ensure that patients can receive holistic care.

Volunteers in the community

The second stream is a research project to explore whether a volunteer-delivered buddying programme can help patients who have recently been discharged from a SLaM hospital. Patients being treated in the community will be paired with a volunteer Health Champion who will work with them to identify and work towards a physical health goal. The Health Champion will support patients to access local services such as park gyms, and encourage them to visit their GPs on a more regular basis, to conduct screenings and keep their health in check.

Ubong Akpang, the Health Champion Volunteer Coordinator said “for a patient, knowing that a volunteer has given up their time for free is inspiring, and a good feeling in itself. It’s not the volunteer’s job to force someone to look after their physical health, rather they are there to empower the patient to ultimately be able to do it themselves.”

Read more about the Health Champions programme on the King’s Health Partners Blog here.

Using digital tools at home

The third stream of work will further develop the SLaM Beth website, which enables patients to access their electronic record. New physical health functionality will be added, such as personalised news feeds, integration with personal monitoring devices (such as sleep trackers or pedometers) and displaying these in a way that is user friendly and intuitive for patients.

"Our Mind and Body programme, is attempting to bind together the two big arms of healthcare, so that we offer much better, integrated healthcare, and this is really important because it impacts real people in their everyday lives."

Dr Sean Cross, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London

Watch a video on how the Maudsley Charity are supporting the integration of physical and mental healthcare: