For immediate release: 26 February 2019

Equally Well UK, the nationwide collaborative for equal health for people with long-term mental health conditions, is delighted to announce its two major work steams for 2019, focusing on Healthy Weight Management and Tobacco smoking.

Equally Well UK is led jointly by Centre for Mental Health, Rethink Mental Illness and Kaleidoscope Health and Care with the support of Royal Colleges, Arm’s Length Bodies and member organisations nationwide.

Equally Well UK is co-produced, bringing together people with personal and professional experience through a Clinical Advisory Group and a Lived Experience Group. Our focus for 2019 was decided between the two groups drawing on discussions with members at the inaugural national event hosted by the Royal College of Nursing.

The aim of Equally Well is to reduce the 15-20 year life expectancy gap for people with a mental illness by bringing organisations together to share intelligence and find solutions. Healthy weight management and tobacco smoking are two crucial areas of work for Equally Well and its members across the country.

Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive Centre for Mental Health

“We understand the importance of co-production and why it has been so important to work closely with our Lived Experience Group who have led the way in terms of identifying the key areas we want to explore in our first full year of Equally Well. These are two complex and often emotive topics, but we hope that in working with our members, Clinical and Lived Experience Advisory Groups we can help work towards closing the life expectancy gap for people with severe mental illness.”

Dr Alan Cohen, Chair of the Equally Well Clinical Advisory Group

“The work programmes on Healthy Weight Management and Tobacco Smoking will provide clinicians with the evidence and resources to implement change so that the serious ill-effects on health outcomes can be addressed.”

The Clinical Advisory Group will be joined by Advisors, with Dr Samantha Scholtz, Dr Brendon Stubbs and Prof John Wass are confirmed for the Healthy Weight Management stream.


Brendon Stubbs biography:

Dr Brendon Stubbs is Head of Physiotherapy at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and a clinical lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London. Brendon’s research focuses on physical activity and mental health and the mind-body interface and he has published over 400 academic papers.  Brendon is lead author of the recently published European Psychiatric Association guidelines and position statement on the use of exercise for mental illness and senior author on a forthcoming Lancet commission to improve the physical health of people with mental disorders.  Brendon was recently (2018) awarded the Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) senior investigator award for his research investigating physical activity and schizophrenia.  Brendon has worked in mental health services for over 15 years and continues to greatly cherish and learn from service users in his weekly physiotherapy clinic in a secure forensic hospital.

Samantha Scholtz biography:

Dr Samantha Scholtz is a consultant psychiatrist who specialises in the management of obesity and related disorders as well as the preparation of patients for metabolic surgery. She is employed by West London Mental Health NHS Trust and based at the Imperial Weight Centre, St Mary’s Hospital. She is also the R&D director for West London Mental Health NHS Trust.

She completed her PhD at Imperial College London, at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, and was funded by the Welcome Trust Charity.  Her research examines appetite and food reward changes in patients who have undergone bariatric surgery using functional magnetic resonance imaging.  She has also published on psychological factors influencing bariatric surgery and the clinical management of bariatric patients. She sits on national advisory committees for obesity management in the UK and advocates against stigmatisation of patients with obesity and serious mental illness through promoting the improved dissemination of scientific knowledge about the neuroendocrine physiology and psychology regulating appetite and weight control.  She has recently set up a special interest group for bariatric psychologists and psychiatrists.

About Equally Well

Equally Well UK is lead by Centre for Mental Health with Kaleidoscope Health and Care and Rethink Mental Illness working in partnership with a growing membership of organisations.

Equally Well UK is co-produced with a Lived Experience Advisory Group convened by Rethink Mental Illness, a Clinical Advisory Group supported by Royal Medical Colleges and a growing membership of organisations. All decisions are made jointly between these groups to ensure that everything we do is informed by people with extensive lived and professional experience.

All of our members have signed our coproduced Charter for Equal Health and provided their individual organisational pledge to play a part in addressing the health inequality and to share intelligence and ideas.

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash