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Article Abstract

It has long been known that psychiatric patients experience increased morbidity and mortality associated with a range of physical disorders. Lifestyle, inadequate health care, and a variety of other factors all contribute to the poor physical health of people with severe mental illness. Second-generation antipsychotics have gained widespread acceptance for the management of patients with schizophrenia and other forms of severe mental illness. While demonstrating several advantages over first-generation antipsychotics, second-generation antipsychotics have been found to cause or exacerbate several metabolic disorders, including diabetes, obesity, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome. These disorders are closely linked and consistently associated with the development of cardiovascular disease, with varying prevalence rates depending on the second-generation antipsychotic used. As a result, several authoritative guidelines have been developed for the monitoring and management of metabolic disturbances in schizophrenia and other forms of severe mental illness. Specifically, the guidelines and recommendations generated from the Mount Sinai Conference on Medical Monitoring and the American Diabetes Association/American Psychiatric Association Consensus Development Conference on Antipsychotic Drugs and Obesity and Diabetes call for a more integrated and cooperative approach between primary care physicians and mental health care providers to improve the quality of health care for people with severe mental illness. By routinely performing physical health monitoring, referrals, and/or treatment for patients with schizophrenia and other forms of severe mental illness, mental health care providers can take a lead role in transforming the current system of fragmented mental and physical health services into a system focused on early intervention, wellness, and recovery.