MEDICS in Sheffield are launching a pilot scheme which aims to prevent people with severe mental health problems from developing diabetes and heart disease.
Prof Tim Kendall, medical director at Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, is working with colleagues and the London School of Economics on a programme of support and advice on healthy eating, weight management and smoking prevention services for people with mental illnesses.
Essential medications to treat schizophrenia and psychosis can sometimes result in a physical side-effect called metabolic syndrome, which causes the body to store fat, leading to weight gain and obesity.
This can in turn bring on diabetes and heart disease.
Prof Kendall said: “This is a longstanding and complex health issue as sadly people with severe mental health conditions have, on average, a shorter lifespan than the general population.
“When heart disease and diabetes is combined with other factors such as sedentary lifestyles, poverty and smoking, which are more common amongst people with severe mental health conditions, they contribute to the risk of a lower life expectancy.
“Our aim is to look forward to what we can do to help people with a complex combination of physical and mental ill health to live longer and healthier lives.”
The pilot study is due to start in early April 2013, lasting for several months.