Clinical guidelines for the physical care of mental health consumers

Clinical guidelines for the physical care of mental health consumers

Assessment and monitoring of the physical health of people with mental illness


The ‘Duty to Care’ report on preventable physical illness in mental health consumers (Coghlan, Lawrence, Holman & Jablensky, 2001) demonstrated markedly elevated rates of a range of physical disorders. As a consequence, people with a severe mental illness are 2.5 times more likely to die from preventable physical illness than people in the general population.

This awareness of high ill health and mortality rates led to the 2004 ‘Who is your GP?’ report (HealthRight Advisory Group, WA Office of Mental Health), advocating that mental health professionals take more responsibility for the physical health of their patients.

Research background


In February 2009 the Western Australian Department of Health – Mental Health Division – commissioned a review of both national and international literature to identify existing research, clinical guidelines and protocols addressing the physical health of mental health consumers.

From this review, five dimensions that impact upon a mental health consumer's physical health have been identified. Each dimension has a number of components, and an evaluation tool has been either sourced or developed for each:

  • Medication effects
  • Lifestyle factors
  • Physical conditions (pre-existing or developing) and allergies
  • Alcohol and illicit drug use
  • Psychosocial factors

The resulting assessment and monitoring package provides an overall evaluation of each consumer’s physical health status, with information on the general screening form covering a time span of two years. This allows for recognition of patterns occurring over time, and places relevant information about the individual’s physical health in the one location. Developed for adults, further investigation is needed for distinct populations (for example the elderly, children, etc.).

Physical Health Diary app and website


The app allows you to keep your own personal medical records on your phone, tablet and computer, and track your physical health over time.

Consumer-directed, the app is designed to provide a summary of empirically-based information about physical health issues, particularly for those who take mental health medications.

With this app you can register as a consumer, a carer, or a health practitioner and share your details with your support team.

Further information is available from the Physical Health Diary App Flyer (below) or on the Physical Health Diary website. You can download the app from Apple or Google Play.

Physical Health Diary app flyer (PDF 962.7 KB)



Funding was received from Mental Health Commission, Government of Western Australia and HealthRight.



Clinician Handbook (PDF 1.3 MB)

Screening Forms (PDF 66 KB)

Wall-Chart Algorithm (PDF 81 KB)

Consumer Diary Brochure (PDF 729.6 KB)

Consumer Diary (PDF 1.4 KB)

Carer Handbook (PDF 1.2 KB)

Contact Dr Susanne Stanley