A role for mental health nursing in the physical health care of consumers with severe mental illness
Happell, B. , Platania-Phung, C. , Gray, R. , Hardy, S. , Lambert, T. , McAllister, M. and Davies, C. (2011) A role for mental health nursing in the physical health care of consumers with severe mental illness. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 18 (8). pp. 706-711. ISSN 1351-0126
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2850.2010.01666.x
There is extensive international evidence that people with severe mental illness have a lower standard of physical health than the general population. This leads to higher morbidity and mortality rates. Many of the causes for this poor physical health are modifiable. Yet the physical needs of this consumer group are neglected by healthcare systems in Australia, and elsewhere. While medical specialists are clearly integral to remedying this, nurses are well placed to play a key role in focused prevention and early intervention in the physical well-being of consumers with mental health problems. This paper outlines the specifics on how mental health nurses can be sensitized, prepared and empowered to help turn this serious health issue around. In particular, mental health nurses could be trained in and then utilize a new physical health check and response system in the UK (called the Health Improvement Profile) if adapted for use within Australia. This profile will be briefly introduced, and then its value to improving health care discussed.
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