Author(s):Dr Ursula Werneke
People with chronic mental health problems may be particularly vulnerable to impaired physical health and poor lifestyle choices. Making sure that one eats the right diet and gets plenty of exercise can be difficult at the best of times. Quitting smoking – though possible – remains notoriously hard for anyone.
Thus, if keeping a healthy lifestyle is already a challenge for people without mental health problems, how much more difficult must this be for people with serious mental health problems who may experience symptoms such as loss of energy, motivation and volition, and who additionally have to cope with adverse effects of medication such as weight gain and sedation? Many lifestyle interventions that are intuitively attractive and well-meant may not translate into health gains if not adapted to the special circumstances of the person experiencing a severe mental illness. Hence, as clinicians we need to develop the expertise at the interface between mental and physical health to enable us to integrate meaningful lifestyle management into the multidisciplinary care plan.
The aim of this module is to familiarise all clinicians treating patients with chronic severe mental disorders with a systematic and practical approach towards the diagnosis of lifestyle-associated physical health problems and potential treatment strategies.
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