Right from the StartA new booklet has been produced to help young people experiencing psychosis for the first time to look after their physical health and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Developed by The Psychosis Research Unit (PRU) at Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMW), the booklet is for use by young people with psychosis and those who care for them.

The booklet includes useful questions for young people and their friends and family to ask their healthcare professional so they can get help with such things as stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption and making positive adjustments to their diet and lifestyle.

It also aims to raise awareness of the need for routine checks like blood, weight and cholesterol that they are entitled to receive, which might detect symptoms of physical health conditions earlier. 

Such tests are important as the risk of developing future illnesses like heart attacks, strokes and diabetes is two or three times higher for people experiencing psychosis. These physical illnesses tend to occur at a younger age and are the main reason why people who experience psychosis can be expected to live 15-20 years less than people without psychosis. 

Dr David Shiers, honorary research consultant for the PRU at GMW, said: “It has been my mission over the last eight years to tackle the premature mortality of people with psychosis. There needs to be a more holistic awareness of the condition and its potential impact on physical health and quality of life. And the best opportunity to prevent future poor health is in the early phase of psychosis.

“There is a lot that can be done to ensure that people with mental health conditions like psychosis receive the physical healthcare they’re entitled and this booklet aims to raise awareness of how people experiencing psychosis for the first time can work with their health team, so they don’t leave their physical health to chance.”

Dr Alan Quirk, senior programme manager (audits & research), Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Centre for Quality Improvement, added: "This is a brilliant and very accessible resource. Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and its Psychosis Research Unit have created an innovative way to drive up the quality of physical health care offered by empowering service users and their families to find out how health professionals can help them to live healthier lives. 

“This tool has the potential to be truly beneficial through raising people’s expectations about the physical healthcare they should receive and by helping shared decision-making to become a reality."

The booklet can be downloaded for free from the Trust’s website – www.gmw.nhs.uk. If you would like to be sent a copy, please contact the PRU on 0161 358 1395 or email info@psychosisresearch.com.