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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program: facilitating physical health care for people with mental illness?

Brenda Happell, Chris Platania-Phung, David Scott
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing 2013, 22 (5): 399-408
23279365
People with serious mental illness have increased rates of physical ill-health and reduced contact with primary care services. In Australia, the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) was developed to facilitate access to mental health services. However, as a primary care service, the contribution to physical health care is worthy of consideration. Thirty-eight nurses who were part of the MHNIP participated in a national survey of nurses working in mental health about physical health care. The survey invited nurses to report their views on the physical health of consumers and the regularity of physical health care they provide. Physical health-care provision in collaboration with general practitioners (GPs) and other health-care professionals was reported as common. The findings suggest that the MHNIP provides integrated care, where nurses and GPs work in collaboration, allowing enough time to discuss physical health or share physical health activities. Consumers of this service appeared to have good access to physical and mental health services, and nurses had access to primary care professionals to discuss consumers' physical health and develop their clinical skills in the physical domain. The MHNIP has an important role in addressing physical health concerns, in addition to the mental health issues of people accessing this service.

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