How We HelpSevere Mental Illness (SMI)
  • Severe Mental Illness (SMI) - Physical Health Liaison

  • Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, other psychoses or conditions that require lithium therapy are considered to be "Severe Mental Illnesses" (SMI). This page shares information about the free annual health checks that people on the SMI register are entitled to and which we may be able to help you to attend.

  • SMI Annual Physical Health Checks

    Having a severe mental illness can put you at a higher risk of developing physical health problems.

    If you have a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, other psychoses or are prescribed lithium therapy, you are eligible for a free annual physical health check from your GP practice to get advice and support, to keep you living healthy and well.

    By having an annual health check your physical health can be monitored, and if required you can be prescribed further support and medication. It is also an opportunity to review your medication and discuss any health concerns you have with your practice.

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  • What is a physical health check?

    A physical health check is a short appointment with a healthcare professional at your local GP practice. Who delivers physical health checks varies between practices, but elements of your physical health check could be delivered by a GP, Practice Nurse, Health Care Assistant, Clinical Pharmacist or Care Co-ordinator.

    At the appointment one of the practice team will, with your permission:

    • Measure your blood pressure – raised blood pressure can contribute to heart problems or increase the risk of having a stroke.
    • Take a blood test – to check your cholesterol and blood sugar levels – raised cholesterol can also increase the risk of a heart attack or a stroke. High blood sugar can be a sign that you may have diabetes.
    • Weigh you – increased weight can increase your chance of developing diabetes, having a heart attack or a stroke and getting other physical problems. For some people on certain medications, they may perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check your heart.
    • Offer you a vaccination – in the winter period you may also be offered a flu vaccination. Other vaccinations (e.g. Covid-19) may also be discussed.
    • Discuss smoking, alcohol, medication, non-prescription drugs and your exercise and diet. If any issues are identified at your health check, your practice will support you with the appropriate next steps to enable you to live well.
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  • How do I arrange my annual check?

    If you have a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, other psychoses or are prescribed lithium therapy, every year you will receive a letter from your GP practice offering you an annual physical check. If you haven’t received any letters from your GP, you can call your GP practice to book an appointment.

    When you call, explain that you wish to book a mental health annual physical health check. The receptionist treats any information in confidence and will also be able to provide details on where and when the appointment will be.

    Please do not worry if you haven’t attended annual checks previously despite receiving letters, the most important thing is that you do start attending going forward!


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  • How our Physical Health Liaison Workers May Help

    If you’re having difficulties accessing your annual health checks, we may be able to help you overcome the barriers to enable you to attend!

    We have a team of Physical Health Liaisons Workers working alongside GP practices in Surrey. The GP surgeries we work with* identify patients having a severe mental illness who are not currently attending their annual check ups. Our team then follows up with those individuals to support them to attend their health checks.

    Our Physical Health Liaison can help with:

    • Arranging your appointment
    • Supporting you to travel to your appointment on public transport (we are not insured to drive you)
    • Attending your appointment with you if you wish
    • Prompting you to attend your appointment

    *Please note that we do not work with every practice within the areas where we operate (Banstead, Elmbridge, Epsom & Ewell and Mole Valley). The GP Federation tells our team where they are needed and they will move GP practices over time, so we cannot guarantee that our Physical Health Liaison Workers will be there to support you at your local GP surgery.

    Download Our Physical Health Liaison Worker leaflet

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  • Getting Support From Your Physical Health Liaison Workers

  • You cannot refer yourself to the service (only GP surgeries where we work can make the referral) but you can ask your GP practice whether they have a Physical Health Liaison Worker and request to receive their support if you are struggling to attend your SMI health check.