This page offers background information, recommendations and actions to take to improve the availability and accessibility of primary care services for those living with serious mental illness.

A third of those living with serious mental illness (SMI) receive all of their care from primary care (1), and the majority get at least some of their care from primary care. However there is a significant lack of specialised training to support practitioners in this area. By starting small and thinking big, primary care services can make simple changes to start to deliver more proactive, accessible and coordinated care to people living with SMI.

The fact that people living with SMI are more likely to have a number of preventable health conditions (than those who don’t live with SMI) reflects a missed opportunity for early interventions at a primary care level.

Shortfalls in prevention, diagnosis and treatment within primary care all contribute to higher mortality rates for those living with SMI (2), resulting in a 15 to 20-year life expectancy gap for this population.

Recommended actions to take

Below are actions specific to primary care providers and commissioners, and should be read in conjunction with the actions set out in the ‘All providers’  section of these resources.

Follow the links for more information and tools to support you:


  1. Collaborative care approaches for people with severe mental illness. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
  2. Do deficits in cardiac care influence high mortality rates in schizophrenia? A systematic review and pooled analysis. 

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