Annual physical health checks for people with severe mental illness (SMI) can save lives. However, individuals often do not attend their appointments.

Building on our previous work with NHS Dorset’s SMI Physical Health Check project where we explored:

  • what training is currently offered to professionals focussing on SMI and whether there is an opportunity to develop bespoke sessions co-designed in partnership with those with lived experience
  • the peer support offer that is available and how these could be linked into supporting people to “wait well”
  • whether there are any VCS groups providing buddies or advocacy to support people who might be reluctant to attend health checks or need additional support to attend their health check.
  • people’s experiences and how they felt about their health check experience, both positive and negative to enable us to inform service development and training of staff.

Our research suggested that there is very limited support available to those with severe mental ill health and their experiences with healthcare professionals often deters them from attending their physical health checks.

We will be continuing to work collaboratively with our colleagues at the NHS Dorset, Dorset Mental Health Forum and Help and Care supporting the SMI Physical Health Check project which seeks to increase the number of annual physical health check that are completed and better understand why uptake is low.

Over the next 12 months we will be:

  • engaging with other areas of England to explore how they are tackling the challenges and share best practice
  • exploring with individuals the reasons why they have not attended their annual physical health check appointment
  • working collaboratively with VCS groups to offer support to those who need support to access their physical health checks
  • co-creating a peer led support group for those with SMI including the development of advocacy/buddy support
  • co-designing and implementing “SMI Awareness Training” to enable both our public sector and VCS colleagues to improve awareness of SMI and the annual physical health checks.

We need your help. We want to work collaboratively with you to:

  • deliver and promote a “SMI Awareness Training” package created in partnership with individuals with lived experience
  • assist in setting up a dedicated peer lead SMI support group
  • explore the creation of buddy or advocacy support
  • help us to engage with individuals diagnosed with SMI who are happy to share their experience, both positive and negative to inform service development and training of staff.

If you want to find out more please get in touch with our Project Officer – Andrew Robertson: [email protected] 


Our work is possible thanks to funding from our partners NHS Dorset.