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RIGHT FROM THE START – A Resource To Improve The Physical Health Of People Experiencing Psychosis

RIGHT FROM THE START (RFTS) is a new resource to improve the physical health of people experiencing psychosis for the first time. Created by David Shiers, service users and practitioners from Greater Manchester West’s Early Intervention Service & The Psychosis Research Unit. RIGHT FROM THE START aims to equip service users and families with better information and confidence to seek help.


Why do this? Some young people who experience psychosis may face a future affected not only by psychological difficulties. They may also develop poorer physical health than those who have not experienced psychosis


  • For instance conditions like heart attacks and diabetes are more likely and tend to occur at a younger age in people who have experienced psychosis.
  • However physical illness is not the only concern.  While medicines can have positive benefits like reducing the distress caused by psychosis they can sometimes also have unhelpful effects such as increased craving for food leading to weight gain, or of being sleepy during the day. 
  • And perhaps the best reason for why young people might want to improve their physical health is summed up by a quote “Improving my physical health has improved my mental health, which then improved my physical health even more.  The two are definitely tied.”


What we set out to do:  What our group set out to develop was a practical leaflet that helped young people and their families understand why their physical well-being was important. We wanted RIGHT FROM THE START to help build up the confidence of service users and families to talk about why their physical health was important to them when they visited their mental health services and their GP surgery. At the same time we wanted GMW’s Early Intervention Services to be enthusiastic and welcoming for discussions about how they could support service users to gain and maintain good physical health from the earliest opportunity


How we did this: the most important thing we did was to involve service users and practitioners together in deciding what should be the key messages and then how best to design the appearance of the leaflet to appeal to young people experiencing psychosis for the first time.  We did this over three workshops held at The Curve over a period of four months.  These were very interactive with lots of informal conversations, use of visual materials, drawing out of creative ideas – in fact they were a lot of fun even though we were talking about a serious topic.


What happened: our initiative has helped translate what we know about psychosis and its treatment and how these can affect physical health into a simple and practical leaflet for people using and for those people providing early intervention services.  The resource was launched in March and received much positive feedback from service users on the clarity of the messages, that the leaflet was informative and well laid-out, and for its bright and attractive design.   A number of other NHS Trusts are interested in developing local versions – one is already in use in South West Yorkshire Foundation Trust. We have even supported a version now in use in New South Wales, and discussions are under way for a version in Ontario, Canada. 

Download the Leaflet HERE

Download the HEAL Update HERE