There is a growing body of evidence that many psychiatrists lack the skills required to provide for the general healthcare of people with mental health problems. This situation may have arisen for good reason – psychiatrists have sought to specialise in mental health matters, regarding physical healthcare as the province of other clinicians. However, as medical practitioners, psychiatrists clearly have a role to play in the management of the general health problems of people with mental health problems. This entails an understanding of the complex interactions between mental health and general health, and an appropriate level of competence in the prevention, detection and treatment of general health problems in their patients, including awareness of the indications for specialist referral.
The overall aim of the Scoping Group was to explore a range of issues concerning the general health of people with mental health problems, with a view to making recommendations to the Council of the Royal College of Psychiatrists on matters concerning clinical practice, training and the identification of other priorities in physical healthcare.