Online resource gives hope for improved physical health for people accessing mental health services

29 NOVEMBER 2022

Online resource gives hope for improved physical health for people accessing mental health services

A new resource created by a partnership between researchers from Charles Sturt University and several universities and health organisations offers hope for users of mental health services in relation to their physical health issues.

  • A new Healthtalk Australia resource offers hope for users of mental health services in relation to their physical health issues
  • A Charles Sturt University advocate warns that every day in Australia 30 people with mental illness die early of common chronic physical health conditions
  • Most of these premature deaths are due to preventable health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer

A new resource created by a partnership between researchers from Charles Sturt University and several universities and health organisations offers hope for users of mental health services in relation to their physical health issues.

The latest addition to the  Healthtalk Australia website addresses these needs through consumer stories and a series of digital resources that aim to offer a sense of hope to those in despair, and support for people helping them.

This project is hosted by Charles Sturt University and led by Professor in Management in the Charles Sturt School of Business Russell Roberts (pictured, inset) and is part of the work of Equally Well Australia2 , a national program aimed at raising the profile of this complex challenge.

“The trauma of navigating mental health services is having a devastating impact on the physical health of many in our population who are losing hope in their battle for equal access to health care, but hope is on the way,” Professor Roberts said.

The Physical Health Experiences of People who have Accessed Mental Health Services project is a partnership between researchers from Charles Sturt University, La Trobe University, RMIT University, Equally Well and Healthtalk Australia, guided by a multi-disciplinary Project Advisory Group and a Consumer Leadership Advisory Group

The aim of the uniquely Australian resource is to:

  • inform and supporting users of mental health services in relation to their physical health issues;
  • support partners and families or people living with mental health conditions to have more powerful conversations around physical health; and
  • inform and educate health professionals, service providers, policymakers and the wider community on barriers to health care for people navigating mental health services that prevent them from accessing better health care.

“Every day in Australia 30 people with mental illness die early of common chronic physical health conditions and most of these premature deaths are due to preventable health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer, according to ABS research,” Professor Roberts said.

“These materials and stories from people with lived experience are really powerful in offering a message of hope about how we can all do better to address physical health needs of people living with mental illness and become a more Equally Well community.”

Leading the Physical Health resources project for Healthtalk Australia is Associate Professor of Law Chris Maylea at LaTrobe University who is a member of the Equally Well Alliance.

“Without guidance and the right resources, navigating the health system can be lonely,” Professor Maylea said.

“Understanding that other people have been through this process can give a sense of hope and shared experience which might make the difference to people seeking out help or not when they really need it.”

The Physical Health resources website was launched at a webinar on Tuesday 29 November where consumers, clinicians and policy makers came together in a panel session about how to maintain focus on this issue, with some of Australia’s leaders in mental health including:

Maggie Toko - Victorian Mental Health Complaints Commission, Assistant Commissioner

Anna Love - Safer Care Victoria, Chief Mental Health Nurse

Christine Morgan - National Mental Health Commission, CEO

Tim Heffernan - Mental Health Commission of New South Wales, Deputy Commissioner


Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Professor Russell Roberts contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or via news@csu.edu.au

For interviews with Associate Professor Chris Maylea email: C.Maylea@latrobe.edu.au

The Physical Wellbeing and Mental Health resources are live on Tuesday 29 November on the Healthtalk website.

Some of the participant voices have been recorded in short, edited videos available here for publication. Study participant voices have been replaced by actors.

Participant 2.3 - https://youtu.be/i6LFxtGZAZE

Participant 1.2 - https://youtu.be/Zh3BgdMdYLk

Funding: This project was jointly and equally funded by:

  • The National Mental Health Commission of Australia
  • Safer Care Victoria, the Department of Health Victoria
  • Mental Health Commission of NSW

References: 

1. National Mental Health Commission. Equally Well Consensus Statement. ‘Improving the physical health and wellbeing of people living with mental illness in Australia’. NMHC 2016: https://www.equallywell.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Equally-Well-National-Consensus-Booklet-47537.pdf

2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. ‘Mortality of people using mental health services and prescription medications’. Analysis of 2011 data. Canberra: ABS; 2017.


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