Mental Health Support
17 Apr 2024

People in West Sussex with a diagnosis of severe mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, are being encouraged to book free physical health checks with their GP. 

Those with severe mental illnesses are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. They are also more often at risk of high blood pressure. Having an annual physical health check can help detect early signs of health issues, such as diabetes, risk of stroke or heart problems, allowing early intervention to prevent these issues becoming more serious. 


An annual physical health check is an opportunity for the person with severe mental illness to talk about their health generally and find the right care. It is also an opportunity for a clinician to review their current medications and support them with health improvements to keep them as well as possible. 


The annual health check consists of two 25-minute appointments. At the first appointment, the nurse or health care assistant will: 

  • Check heart rate, blood pressure and weight 
  • Take a blood test 
  • Talk about how to keep well and ask if they need any help with this 
  • Check if vaccinations and screening tests are up to date 

At the second appointment, normally a week or so later, the GP or senior nurse will: 

  • Have the results of the blood tests as well as the other findings from the first part of the check and will talk to the patient about their health and the lifestyle measures that can be taken to improve this going forwards. 
  • Talk to them about their medicines and ask if they have any side effects. 
  • Check how they are coping with any long-term conditions such as asthma or diabetes. 

If you have an SMI yourself or you care for someone with a severe mental illness, please contact your/their GP to make an appointment. 

If an individual has specific needs which mean they have difficulty leaving home, they can have a physical health check at home, or in a setting that they’re able to go to. If someone needs help with travel, they can contact their Community Transport service in West Sussex. Or if they are on low income or certain benefits, they may be able to get help with travel costs through the NHS Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme. 

For more information, visit Supporting people with Severe Mental Illness - Sussex Health & Care (