IFIC Webinar – Integrated care for people living with long term mental health conditions

IFIC Webinar - Integrated care for people living with long term mental health conditions


9:00 pm - 10:30 pm

Event Type

Integrated care for people living with long term mental health conditions

The Lancet Psychiatry Commission wrote in 2019 that “the poor physical health of people with mental illness is a multifaceted, transdiagnostic, and global problem”. The Commission noted that life-expectancy for people living with long term severe mental illness (SMI) is lower than those without, due in part to “poor clinical management” and the gap may be widening. The Commission proposed integrating physical and mental healthcare to address this largely unmet need.

The incidence of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases is up to two times higher in this group than the wider population 1 . Whilst not widely researched, this pattern also appears for people living with common mental health conditions such as depression2. Similarly, people living with SMI have much poorer outcomes reflected by higher numbers of planned and avoidable admissions to hospital3. The ”poor clinical management” referred to in the Commission’s report can be caused by a range of factors including a lack of access by people living with SMI to timely preventative care and treatment of physical health conditions. This lack of access can have origins in the way that services are organized, for example lack of colocation of physical and mental health services, and psycho-social factors that limit an individual’s ability to access services. A study in Belgium found that healthcare professionals’ capability and capacity to meet the needs of this group and an absence of multi-disciplinary guidelines were other barriers to high quality clinical management4.

The physical health impact of living with a long term mental health condition and the mental health impact of living with a long term physical health condition mean that integrating mental and physical health care is essential in high, middle and low income countries5.

This webinar focused on examples of emerging good practice in delivering models of integrated mental and physical healthcare that are focused on the specific needs of people living with SMI. Invited speakers brought a range of perspectives from healthcare providers, community organisations, people with lived experience and research.

Facilitated by

Dr Niamh Lennox-Chhugani
Chief Executive
International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC)

Dr Niamh Lennox-Chhugani has 30 years of experience in evidence-based transformation in healthcare internationally as a clinician, academic and consultant. Her experience has included integrated health and education service design and provision for children in the NHS in the early 1990’s, health system policy reform in post-conflict Bosnia-Herzegovina, advising on health system reform in the Russian Federation, scaling up infectious disease programmes in sub-Saharan Africa and implementing new care models in the NHS. She has provided leadership to teams in the public sector, commercial businesses and non-profits. As a subject matter expert on integrated care as part of wider healthcare reform, she has spoken at conferences, on panels, written papers, contributed as part of international teams to health system reviews. Most recently, Niamh led the healthcare practice at Optimity Advisors which included directing several EU-funded health projects. Since late 2019, she worked independently leading evaluations of digital health technology. She has a PhD from Imperial College London in organisation change in healthcare. Niamh was appointed as CEO by the IFIC Board in March 2021.


Dr. Brenda Reiss-Brennan
Mental Health Integration Director
Primary Care Clinical Program
Intermountain Healthcare

Dr. Reiss-Brennan is a medical anthropologist and psychiatric nurse practitioner working in primary care for over 45 years. As a principal investigator, she leads Intermountain Healthcare’s (IH) adoption, diffusion and evaluation of clinical integration for mental health and medical care. The cost and quality evidence of the Mental Health Integration (MHI) innovation has transformed primary care culture and has spread rapidly over 200 IH medical clinics including uninsured, rural and specialty, as well as 45 non-IH community clinics throughout the United States. MHI provides a proven integrated team-based culture that has effectively improved quality, patient and staff experience while reducing costs. Dr. Reiss-Brennan holds a longstanding faculty appointment at the University of Utah, College of Nursing. She serves as a local, national and international consultant for cultural innovation, implementation science and scaling of MHI cost, quality and patient and staff experience research to improve population health and well-being. Most recently she serves on the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine committee on Implementing High Quality Primary Care and as senior science advisor for the Central Coast Research Institute for Integrated Care, Australia.

David Burke
Senior Staff Specialist and Clinical Lead
Older People’s Mental Health
St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney
Associate Professor
Discipline of Psychiatry
the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney

David Burke is Australian and Irish, an Old Age Psychiatrist, an Associate Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Notre Dame Australia Sydney, the Clinical Lead in the Older People’s Mental Health Service at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, and an IFIC Senior Associate. His current interests are in healthy brain ageing, longevity and health span, and global mental health.

Dr Christopher Hilton
Director of Local & Specialist Services
West London NHS Trust

Chris was appointed as Director of Local & Specialist Services in August 2021.
He returned to the Trust in 2013 as a Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, having previously worked in various roles during his postgraduate training.
He was appointed Director of Business and Strategy in 2016 and then Clinical Director for Integrated Care Services in 2019, overseeing the launch and delivery of community services in Ealing (Ealing Community Partners).
Chris is a senior clinical teacher in the Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London. His professional interests include the integration of care pathways, particularly ensuring mental health is embedded alongside physical care, problems associated with novel psychoactive substances, and the arts in health.

Alejandro Gil-Salmerón
Senior Researcher
International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC)

Alejandro Gil-Salmerón, a senior researcher at the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC), is leading one of the first projects in Europe to integrate cancer prevention into mental healthcare using patient navigation strategies. With over 20 research projects under his belt, primarily funded by the Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe programs of the European Commission, Alejandro’s focus has evolved towards enhancing integrated care delivery for high-priority population groups with complex needs.

1. Firth J, Siddiqi N, Koyanagi AI, Siskind D, Rosenbaum S, Galletly C, Allan S, Caneo C, Carney R, Carvalho AF, Chatterton ML. The Lancet Psychiatry Commission: a blueprint for protecting physical health in people with mental illness. Lancet Psychiatry. 2019 Aug 1;6(8):675-712.

2. Pizzol D, Trott M, Butler L, et al. BMJ Ment Health. 2023;26:1–5.

3. Launders N, Hayes JF, Price G, Marston L, Osborn DPJ. The incidence rate of planned and emergency physical health hospital admissions in people diagnosed with severe mental illness: a cohort study. Psychol Med. 2023;53:5603–5614. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291722002811.

4. Martens N, De Haeck E, Van De Vondel E, Destoop M, Catthoor K, Dom G, Van Den Broeck K. Physical Healthcare for People with a Severe Mental Illness in Belgium by Long-Term Community Mental Health Outreach Teams: A Qualitative Descriptive Study on Physicians’, Community Mental Health Workers’ and Patients’ Perspectives. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Jan 1;20(1):811.

5. Thornicroft G, Ahuja S, Barber S, Chisholm D, Collins PY, Docrat S, Fairall L, Lempp H, Niaz U, Ngo V, Patel V. Integrated care for people with long-term mental and physical health conditions in low-income and middle-income countries. Lancet Psychiatry. 2019 Feb 1;6(2):174-86.