Experiences of Treatment and Support for Physical Health Issues: Peer Research Report

We are happy to publish the report from our Peer Research into Experiences of Treatment and Support for Physical Health Issues.  

You can read the report here:

A large print version will be produced shortly.

A summary of the report is below.

We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who responded to the research and to the peer researchers.

If you would like to be involved in what Edinburgh Community Voices do next with this work, please contact Becky – [email protected], 0131 554 5307.

You can find the report from our peer research into Experiences of Side Effects of Mental Health Medication here:



We heard from 14 people.

They told us about a range of conditions and symptoms they sought help or received treatment for.

A range of professionals were involved in their care or treatment, including GPs, nurses, consultants, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.  For some people, mental health professionals were involved as well as physical health professionals at some point in their care.

Things people were happy with included:

  • Being listened to, believed, treated with respect and taken seriously
  • Being treated with compassion / staff being kind and caring
  • Adjustments being made to make it easier to attend appointments
  • Tests organised quickly
  • Thorough investigations into symptoms
  • Physical health professionals and mental health professionals being in regular contact

Things people were not happy with included:

  • Their physical health being ignored
  • The impact of their physical health issues not being recognised
  • Delay in referral for tests
  • Delay in diagnosis
  • Issues with how GP appointments are arranged
  • Issues with how GP appointments are carried out
  • No discussions of side effects of physical health medication
  • Required adjustments not being made
  • Lack of communication between physical health professionals and mental health professionals 
  • Physical health needs not being met for inpatients in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital 

Most of the things that people told us made it easier to get help were related to appointments with their GP, either because they find it easy to get an appointment, because of how their GP carries out appointments or things their GP does, or because of other services their GP practice provides. 

Some people felt that they were treated differently in a bad way.  Some felt that they were treated differently and that this was in a good way, they got the extra help or adjustments that they needed.  Some people felt that they were not treated differently and that this not right, that there were adjustments that should have been made.  Others felt that they were not treated differently and that this was good because their mental health diagnosis did not affect the standard of service they received and they were not stigmatised against. 

Some people did feel listened to, some people felt listened to in part and some people did not feel listened to at all.

These are the things that people told us would have made their care better for them:

  • A home visit by an occupational therapist to assess their physical health needs
  • Greater integration and interdisciplinary working between NHS departments
  • Offering acupuncture and massage
  • Their whole life looked at not just their physical health
  • A key worker
  • Physical health services not discriminating on the basis of mental illness
  • Alternative treatment options offered
  • More recognition of impact of physical health medication side effects
  • Having had more social support, e.g. a friend to help them when unwell

These are the wider changes they identified which could be made to improve the care that people with lived experience of mental health issues receive for physical health issues.

  • Listen to, believe and help us
  • Don’t dismiss physical health
  • More funding for improving physical healthcare for people with mental health issues
  • Encourage people with mental health issues to take part in screening programmes (e.g. cancer screening)
  • A mobile triage service within Community Mental Health Services
  • Don’t prevent people from joining the Pain Management Programme because of a severe mental health diagnosis
  • One key person responsible for prescribing pain and psychiatric medication
  • Greater team working between GP, physio, psychiatry, psychology, neurological services, with key lead
  • Believe that the pain is real and not all in someone’s head
  • A key worker, volunteer or advocate
  • More training on mental health for medical staff in general hospitals
  • More consistency and awareness of staff, both mental health and physical health