Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance Progress Report 2022-23

Strategic Priority: Physical health

Our priority outcome: To improve the physical health of people with mental health issues

Life expectancy for people with severe mental illness is 15–20 years lower than UK averages, mainly due to preventable physical illness.

Context and key challenges

People living with severe mental illness (SMI) face one of the UK’s greatest health inequality gaps. Factors can include side effects of anti-psychotic medication, lifestyle, and difficulties with mainstream health services. People with mental health needs are statistically less likely to have routine checks (blood pressure, weight and cholesterol) that might detect early symptoms of physical health conditions; and less likely to get help with giving up smoking, drinking less alcohol, or healthier diet and exercise.

What we offer

Physical activity is an important part of the ‘treatment’ for many of the people we support. Whether it’s walking, gardening, yoga or sports, being physically active can play an important role in being mentally healthy. We work with many voluntary and community groups – such as the Mosaic Clubhouse, Loughborough Farm and Brixton Pumas – as well as Social Prescribers who work with GPs to ‘prescribe’ such physical activities for those who would benefit.

We also try to ensure that we carry out the routine health checks mentioned above for those we support, rather than expecting GPs to always do them.

Our impact

We continue to focus on making sure people we support have regular health checks, which includes looking at blood pressure, blood sugar levels, weight and lifestyle choices. In 2022/23 57% of people with severe mental illness received all six of their physical health checks. Although this narrowly missed the 60% target it was a significant improvement from the previous year which saw just 39% receiving all six checks. 

Our next steps

We’re further developing our Staying Well programme to support more people to thrive in their communities by working with GPs, social prescribers and local voluntary and community groups. The role of the social prescriber includes encouraging people to take part in more physical activity and develop healthier lifestyle habits. 

We aim to increase the number of people who receive routine health checks by improving how we record and identify those who need them.  

Case study: CAPSA & the Professional Footballer’s Association

Can you help us?

We have a short survey that anyone who use our services will be invited to complete (online or on paper). It will take less than three minutes and will tell us how well we are doing and what we need to improve.

Complete the survey now.