The recent publication of the Mental Health Taskforce’s five-year national strategy places the physical healthcare of mental health patients high on the agenda for the future of mental health nursing. Despite efforts to address the disparity, people with serious mental illness (SMI) remain significantly more likely than those without SMI to die prematurely due to common illnesses such as diabetes and liver disease. Patients in forensic settings often have lengthy admissions and complex health needs, making comprehensive assessment of physical wellbeing particularly important. However, research suggests that physical health assessment by mental health nurses is lacking in practice. This case study highlights the principles of comprehensive physical health assessment for those with SMI and the benefits to patients by identifying risks to wellbeing. In this instance, physical health assessment as a part of a student nurse module identified significant unmet needs regarding long-standing substance misuse and exposure to blood-borne viruses.
Francesca Hands, Kim Goddard, Anne Pegram
British Journal of Mental Health Nursing, Volume 5, Issue 5, 2016