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Improving the Physical Health Outcomes of People with Serious Mental Illness

Improving Physical Health Outcomes: a lived experience perspective

Thomas Dunning
Director & Motivational Speaker
Mental Health Runner

• a lived experience perspective
• how can we improve physical health and wellbeing
• understanding the physical side effects of medication
• how can we improve the lives of people with Serious Mental Illness? 

Thomas gave an inspirational talk sharing his experience of psychosis and personality disorder, leading to attempts to take his own life, and his journey in overcoming mental illness and sharing his story to help others. He talked about how meeting others with the same diagnosis ignited hope and then he fell in love with running which he said made him feel amazing and really helped his mental health, he was looking after himself and motivating others.  Thomas completed the London marathon in 2019, he said; "I've got this diagnosis but it's not going to label me, it's not going to define me, I will define myself." Thomas talked about falling into a 'Treatment Quagmire' after he reached crisis point, it took 9 months to get treatment, he was not unwell enough for one service, and too unwell for another. He said there needs to be interim support, social presribing to bridge the gap.  Thomas and his wife Amber have started the First Steps Forward Programme to help fund running shoes and sportswear to support people to get running.  

The impact of Covid-19 & Lockdown on the Physical Health Outcomes of people with Severe Mental Illness

Emma Bailey
Lead Equally Well

with Kevin James
Expert by Experience Consultant & Patient Leader
Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust



• the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown on the physical health outcomes of people with serious mental illness
• improving health checks
• managing long term health issues related to Covid-19
• our Sport England funded physical activity programme
• the national picture and moving forward with parity of esteem

Emma shared the work of Equally Well and Rethink in supporting the physical health needs of people with serious mental illness through a physical health check programme.  She shared areas they have focused on including Covid-19 as people with serious mental illness are more likely to die from Covid-19, fortunately they are on the prority list and the programme has supported the vaccination programme. There has also been a focus on tabacco smoking and SMI, healthy weight management and dentistry and oral health.  Interviewed by Emma, Kevin was able to share his experience receiving support with physical health checks and how important it has been to him.