Pioneering project to improve Manchester’s mental health

With an estimated one in four of us at risk of developing a mental health problem at some point in our lifetime, caring for, and supporting, those who do become unwell is a vitally pressing concern for the health community.

Manchester Mental Health project2People with a mental illness are also more likely to smoke, have a poor diet and be less physically active than the wider population, whilst medication for mental health problems can sometimes lead to weight gain and diabetes.  For an individual these factors can also result in devastating physical health effects.  In fact those with severe mental illness can have a life expectancy up to 25 years shorter than that of the general population.

Consideration into the best ways of addressing these factors in Manchester has led to the development of a pilot project in the north of the city where GP practices and care co-ordinators from Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust work closely together to ensure that the physical health needs of patients with a mental illness are diagnosed, treated and managed from the outset. The project was set up by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for Greater Manchester with the Trust’s North West Community Mental Health Team.  It is being run in conjunction with Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC), established to underpin the development of Greater Manchester as a world leader in health research, and of which the Trust is a founder organisation.

This joint approach, where physical and mental health information is shared at multi-disciplinary team meetings between the GP and an individual’s mental health co-ordinators and Community Mental Health Team, is already having positive outcomes for patients.

One person with epilepsy, diabetes, heart disease and chronic mental health problems wrote that he was “absolutely flabbergasted” as a result of an initial meeting with his mental health worker, GP and district nurses and the contact he had had subsequently to monitor his diabetes more closely.

He wrote: “These people have never looked like coming together before and in truth it makes me feel empowered and cared for because I know there is somebody out there who can help me deal with my problems.”

The project will be rolled out across the city by the Trust over the next few months and has the potential to form the basis for the development of a national model when the full evaluation is published in early summer.

Professor Ruth Boaden, Service Operations Management at Manchester Business School (MBS) and Deputy Director of the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for Greater Manchester, which leads the pilot programme and Dr Sean Lennon, Medical Director of the Trust, presented some early findings at the Mental Health – from Strategy to Reality conference at Manchester Conference Centre held on Thursday 14th March 2013.

Article provided by Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust.

More information about severe mental illness and physical health can be found on our website, and you can see how this is continuing to have a positive impact on patients. If you would like any further information, please contact Michael Spence.