COVID-19 vaccine push for residents with a Severe Mental Illness (SMI)
Health chiefs from NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (BLMK CCG) are undertaking a drive to ensure that local residents with a Severe Mental Illness (SMI) take up the offer of a COVID-19 vaccination.
The drive will see teams from local GPs and pharmacists work together to make contact with residents to encourage those with a severe mental illness to have the COVID-19 vaccine. As part of this initiative patients will receive texts or calls as part of an ongoing discussion to ensure they are provided with information to help make an informed choice about vaccination take up.
The conversations that take place will provide people with a severe mental illness details around what to expect from the vaccination process, where they can access vaccinations and how to prepare before their appointments. In addition, there will be extra support for people who need it in order to help them get their vaccination.
Dr Sarah Whiteman, GP and Chair of NHS BLMK CCG said: “During the vaccination programme we have reached out to many differing groups to support their choice to be vaccinated. We want to support more people to access their vaccinations. We are working with our local healthcare professionals to carry out the conversations to help those with a severe mental illness get vaccinated.
“If you or a loved one you care for have a severe mental illness, you are eligible for a free NHS COVID-19 vaccination now. It’s safe, effective and quick, and is the best chance we have of beating the virus, saving lives and getting back to doing the things we all enjoy.
“As part of the vaccination programme, we want to ensure that no-one is left behind, including following up with people who do not respond to a first invite, and we continue to work with other NHS teams and local charity and voluntary groups to support people who may need additional support to attend.”
Those residents in BLMK that have a severe mental illness can expect a phone call from one of the team to provide information and detail on the vaccination programme to support them in getting their jabs.
Videos have been developed by Public Health England in collaboration with Equally Well UK and NHS England, including GP professionals and Experts by Experience. They provide useful information for people with severe mental illness to know what to expect from the vaccination process and how to prepare before their appointments.
You can access the videos here:
- Getting the COVID-19 vaccine: Personal experience guide for people with severe mental illness, Part 1: https://youtu.be/NBl4lhIPw2w
- Getting the COVID-19 vaccine: Personal experience guide for people with severe mental illness, Part 2: https://youtu.be/gYWAby0-tEw
- COVID-19 vaccination: A guide for GPs and teams to support people with severe mental illness: https://youtu.be/OusrDVmUDZg
Equally Well UK have also produced a guide for people with a diagnosis of severe mental illness to support them with their vaccination, which can be found here.
Alongside vaccinations, awareness of Physical Health Checks is also being raised. Annual Physical Health Checks for people with severe mental illness are designed to pick up on signs that someone may be at risk of diabetes, stroke or heart problems. This enables action to be taken before these issues become more serious. A tool has been developed to support patients before, during and after their Physical Health Check and is available to download from Rethink Mental Illness.
Further information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme can be found on the CCG website.