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Call for pledges to Equally Well best practice


Thursday 7 Sep 2017

Russell RobertsA Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic and co-chair of the National Mental Health Commission's Equally Well Implementation Committee is calling for action from individuals and organisations to make a firm commitment to alleviate mental illness in their communities.

Associate Professor Russell Roberts (pictured) in the CSU Faculty of Business, Justice and Behavioural Sciences said there is a need for the community to improve the health outcomes for those with severe mental illness by ensuring better screening, early treatment and management of co-existing physical health conditions to help people with a mental illness.

Professor Roberts said, "The launch of the Equally Well National Consensus Statement in July was an important step forward to address the priority area of the physical health of people living with mental illness.

"We are now calling for individuals and organisations to make their pledge to the Equally Well Consensus Statement to help address the serious disparity for people with a mental illness who on average live up to 23 years less than the general population.

"The goal of Equally Well is to inspire a commitment to putting health care for people living with mental illness on an equal footing with people with physical problems.

"The Equally Well Implementation Committee believes that by committing to implement the Equally Well best practice principles, the wellbeing and longevity of those with a mental illness will improve."

Professor Roberts noted a number of compelling statistics that highlight the dramatic disparity in health and life expectancy for those with mental illness in Australia.

  • Four out of every five people living with a mental illness have a co-existing physical illness, yet they receive less health care and lower quality health care than the rest of the population.
  • The treatment of a person living with a mental illness has all too often overshadowed the diagnosis of chronic and sometimes fatal physical health conditions.
  • People living with a mental illness are twice as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
  • People living with a mental illness are 65 per cent more likely to smoke, and six times more likely to have dental problems.
  • The prognosis is much worse for those with a severe mental illness; they're five times more likely to smoke, six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease (even if aged between 25 and 44 years), and four times more likely to die from respiratory disease.
  • People with schizophrenia are 90 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with bowel cancer, and 42 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Professor Roberts said that these stark and shocking statistics are preventable.

"Collectively, we can improve the health outcomes for those with severe mental illness by adopting Equally Well principles for mental, physical, social and emotional wellbeing," he said.

"Better screening, early treatment and management of co-existing physical health conditions, will help people with a mental illness."

You can find out more about the Equally Well Consensus Statement and/or sign-up to support it at http://www.equallywell.org.au/

To sign up to Equally Well and have your organisation's logo displayed on the webpage, please email the Project Team at signup@equallywell.org.au with the name of your organisation, logo, link to your home page, and confirmation that you have the authority to give formal commitment.

The Equally Well National Consensus Statement and the Equally Well initiative were launched at the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday 25 July 2017.


ends

Media contact: Bruce Andrews, (02) 6338 6084

Media Note:

Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews with Associate Professor Russell Roberts, who is co-chair of the Equally Well Implementation Committee, with Ms Elida Meadows the Carer Co-Chair of the National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum.

Professor Roberts will be available for interviews about the ABS report on mental illness and physical health to be released on Friday 8 September.

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