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|TX: 19.09.03 – MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE USERS ALSO FACE EXTRA PHYSICAL HEALTH PROBLEMS|
|PRESENTER: JOHN WAITE|
Back in July we reported on the discrimination in the health service faced by people with learning difficulties and mental health problems. Well now the mental health group - Mentality - has published a report about the physical health of mental health service users. Not all in the mind - as the report is called - found that people who use mental health services also have extra problems with their physical health. The report's author Linda Seymour is here, what sort of problems Linda, give us some examples?
Thank you. Yes there are a range of health problems which people who use mental health services face and these are people with severe and enduring mental illnesses. There are much higher levels of heart disease, respiratory illness and diabetes. And just to give you a statistic - twice as - people with these illnesses are twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease and a person, for example, with schizophrenia can expect to live for 10 years less than someone without a mental health problem. So that's quite serious.
Indeed it is. What are the reasons for it do you think?
Well there are a range of reasons and it isn't as if this is a unique group who have mental - who have health problems which are quite different from the rest of the population, it's the way that those problems are picked up. And so although they might have coronary heart disease or diabetes or whatever, the problem comes in with issues around stigma - that people who have mental illnesses are often not properly assessed for their physical health problems. And also the side effects of medication, particularly anti-psychotic medication, bring added physical health disbenefits, if you like.
And will some people with mental health problems be not as able to articulate their needs as some others?
Yes that's absolutely right and the unfortunate other end of that double whammy, if you like, is that health professionals are often not able to extract the information that's required. So it's double jeopardy.
Now you were talking about anti-psychotic drugs there and they also, don't they, increase the appetite for junk food, I mean are there specific health problems that come with the territory, if you like, with this group of people?
Yes absolutely, they increase the appetite for any kind of junk food, for any kind of food, and because of social exclusion, because of poverty, because often people who have mental illnesses are unable to work, all they can afford is junk food and so that then brings with it dangers of obesity, diabetes etc. So yes added problems.
You say though, just finally, in the report the statutory framework is in place to modernise and improve health services, so why are mental health service users still not receiving appropriate physical healthcare?
I think they are receiving it in places, it's patchy, and a framework is only that - it creates a backdrop against which you can make progress and there has been progress in parts of the country. What we hope to do with this report is to begin a discussion, a debate, a dialogue and to make sure that examples of good practice spread.
Linda Seymour, author of Not all in the mind, thank you very much indeed.
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