Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today highlights the importance of working to prevent and manage physical health conditions for people with a mental health condition.
The National Health Survey: Mental Health and co-existing physical health conditions, Australia report shows that people with a mental and behavioural condition were almost twice as likely as those without a mental and behavioural condition to report having diabetes, and almost three times as likely to report chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This new data is consistent with previous findings that people experiencing severe mental illness have a shorter life expectancy, and are three to four times as likely to die prematurely as the general population.
This inequality in health outcomes cannot persist. Over recent months, the National Mental Health Commission has been working with key stakeholders on this important issue. Together, we are working to develop a National Consensus Statement to outline what is required to realise the shared vision that people living with mental health conditions have the same life expectancy and quality of life as those without mental health conditions.
The Consensus Statement is not itself an action plan or an implementation plan. Creating the Consensus Statement is about agreeing on what needs to be done, so stakeholders can collaborate on the next steps of planning and implementing concrete actions to create change.
In November 2015, we hosted a workshop in Sydney for organisations and individuals to contribute their views on how physical health outcomes for people experiencing mental ill-health can be improved.
Further consultations on the Consensus Statement addressing the physical health of people with a mental illness are planned in early 2016. The National Mental Health Commission will seek the views of:
- people with a lived experience of mental health issues and their families and support people
- the clinicians and professionals who provide care for people with mental health conditions, and the colleges that train them
- service providers who work with people with mental health conditions, Primary Health Networks and non-government organisations
- universities and research institutes
- the Commonwealth and state and territory governments
- other national organisations and peak bodies.
Based on their input, a statement will then be produced by mid-2016, to be endorsed by these important groups as a demonstration of their commitment to take collective action.
We look forward to continuing our work with our partners on this area of vital importance.