Physical Health in Severe Mental Illness (SMI)

What is the problem?Mind and body

Too many people with Severe Mental Illness suffer from poor physical health or die too early. A key objective of our Mind and Body programme is to find out more about why this happens and how we can improve things.

Research into the mental health of people with physical illness (academic liaison psychiatry) is a well-established field. Less advanced however is research into the physical health challenges faced by people with Severe Mental Illness (SMI).  

A coordinated and collaborative approach is needed to understand the causes and associations of the excess morbidity and mortality in SMI and determine the most impactful ways for patients with SMI to live longer, healthier lives. Only by joining the dots between SMI and poor physical health cam we make any real impact on the lives of the people we care for.  

Reducing mortality in SMI is a London Health Commission recommendation and is at the heart of NHS England’s Fiver Year Forward View for mental health. Therefore our academic response needs to be consistent and at scale to inform and evaluate the rapid clinical and attitudinal changes already underway.

How are we joining the dots?

We have established an academic network to support the production of high-quality research evidence to reduce premature mortality and improve health in SMI. This strategic research network is a multi-disciplinary community for research into physical health in Severe Mental Illness.

This network represents an opportunity to raise awareness of the field among the academic community, create a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration and information sharing and provide an institutional network for links between researchers, clinicians, service users, carers, industry and service planners, helping to develop a shared understanding.

Our aim is to promote research activities into physical health in SMI across King’s Health Partners and to provide a hub to link with external research collaborators nationally and internationally. The goal is to generate collaborative insights into all aspects of physical health in SMI by establishing a community of researchers across disciplines and settings; facilitating development of research in the field; and promoting the translation of research into practice for the benefit of our patients and their families.

Who can help us join the dots?

Our network is open to researchers with an academic interest in physical health in severe mental illness.

We hope to become a go-to source for researchers,  basic scientists, clinicians,  patients, carers,  industry, service planners and government.

Please contact


People with severe mental illness face many disadvantages, which often results in a shortened life expectancy. Coming together across disciplines to research biological, pharmacological, psychological, societal and service-level causes and solutions is the only way to give our patients an equitable chance of better health.
Dr Fiona Gaughran, Lead Consultant Psychiatrist, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Joining the dots - our objectives

  • Generate high quality peer reviewed research in the field of Physical Health in SMI
  • Map current research activity and identify areas of unmet need
  • Provide a base for shared academic and clinical approaches across primary, secondary and public health care to support research and practice in the field.
  • Create a hub for researchers to link with interested clinicians, service users and carer representatives to generate and answer research questions on physical health in SMI
  • Enable service planners to readily access the relevant research and expertise to plan evidence-based clinical systems and target incentivisation of good practice
  • Provide a centre for clinical and basic science researchers to collaborate to develop insights into the biological, clinical and service antecedents to physical morbidity and to generate evidence for strategies to improve health in SMI.
  • Support clinicians and service planners in robustly evaluating advances in physical health services.
  • Provide a knowledge and recruitment infrastructure to develop partnerships with industry to improve health outcomes