The Healthy Active Lives (HeAL) international consensus statement aims to reverse the trend of people with severe mental illness dying early by tackling risks for future physical illnesses pro-actively and much earlier.
The HeAL statement reflects international consensus on a set of key principles, processes and standards. It aims to combat the stigma, discrimination and prejudice that prevent young people experiencing psychosis from leading healthy active lives, and confront the perception that poor physical health is inevitable.
Compared to their peers who have not experienced psychosis, young people with psychosis face a number of preventable health inequalities:
- A lifespan shortened by about 15-20 years.
- Two to three times the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease making it the single most common cause of premature death (more so than suicide)
- Two to three times the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Three to four times the likelihood of being a smoker.
Dr David Shiers, co-author of HeAL, said:
“The evidence is now clear – weight gain, cardiovascular risk and metabolic disturbance commonly appear early in the course of emerging psychosis and are potentially modifiable. As clinicians, if we dismiss these disturbances as being of secondary concern to controlling their psychiatric symptoms we may be inadvertently condoning a first critical step on a path towards physical health inequalities for these young people. This vulnerable group urgently need a far more holistic and preventive approach.”
Find out more about the International Physical Health in Youth Stream, a group of clinicians, service users, family members and researchers from the UK, Australia and nine other countries at www.iphys.org.au