‘Severe mental illness’: Uses of this term in physical health support policy, primary care practice, and academic discourses in the United Kingdom

Ilaria Pina*, Liam Gilfellon, Sue Webster, Emily J. Henderson, Emily J. Oliver

*Corresponding author for this work

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The term severe mental illness (SMI) is often used in academic work, primary care practice, and policy, acknowledging the health disparities experienced by, and need for improved support for, this population. However, here we draw from the varied experiences of our authorship team to reflect on some problematic operationalisations of the term SMI and its usage, specifically in policy, primary care practice, and academic discourses in England and the UK. Benefits of the SMI label in accessing specialised services are evident but, in this commentary, we start a discussion on its necessity and unintended consequences for wider health support. We focus on physical health support specifically. We hope that this commentary encourages dialogue among practitioners, researchers, stakeholders and commissioners concerning wider uses of the term SMI.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100314
Number of pages4
JournalSSM - Mental Health
Early online date15 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Mar 2024

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