Informed, engaged communities for health

Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
codesign
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#FoodGovernance2021
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#GreenHealthForum21
#HealthClimateSolutions21
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#ICEM22
#IndigenousClimateJustice21
#NAISA22
#NNF2021
#RANZCP2021
#RANZCP2022
#RTP22
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#ValueBasedCare
#WCepi2021
#YHFSummit
Choosing Wisely National Meeting 2022
Equally Well 2022 Symposium
GiantSteps22
Croakey Professional Services
#CommunityControl
#COVIDthinktank21
#KidneyCareTogether
ACSQHC series
ACSQHC series 2019
ACSQHC series 2020
ACSQHC series 2021
ACSQHC series 2022
CATSINaM 25 Years
Lowitja Indigenous knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
@WePublicHealth2022
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#HealthyCOP26
#HousingJusticeAus
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#MRFFtransparency
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVID SNAPS
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
ICYMI
Inside Story
Journal Watch
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Donor-funded journalism
Donor-funded journalism – 2020
Donor-funded journalism – 2021
Donor-funded journalism – 2022
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2022-23
Federal Election 2022
SA election 2022
The Election Wrap (2022)
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
Flooding 2022
Global health
NHS
NSW 2022
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
Aged care
Allied healthcare
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
Health reform
health regulation
Health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
Mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
Nursing and midwifery
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
Primary Health Networks
Primary healthcare
private health insurance
Rural and remote health
Safety and quality of healthcare
screening
sexual health
Social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
Health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
Monkeypox
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
Public health
Public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
commercial determinants of health
discrimination
education
Housing
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart
poverty
Racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Summer reading 2021-2022
Tasmanian election 2021
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences
#17APCC
#ACEM17
#AIDAconf2017
#BTH20
#CATSINaM17
#ClimateHealthStrategy
#IAHAConf17
#IDS17
#LBQWHC17
#LivingOurWay
#OKtoAskAu
#OTCC2017
#ResearchTranslation17
#TheMHS2017
#VMIACConf17
#WCPH2017
Australian Palliative Care Conference
2018 conferences
#6rrhss
#ACEM18
#AHPA2018
#ATSISPC18
#CPHCE
#MHED18
#NDISMentalHealth
#Nurseforce
#OKToAsk2018
#RANZCOG18
#ResearchIntoPolicy
#VHAawards
#VMIACAwards18
#WISPC18
2019 Conferences
#ACEM19
#CPHCE19
#EquallyWellAust
#GiantSteps19
#HealthAdvocacyWIM
#KTthatWorks
#LowitjaConf2019
#MHAgeing
#NNF2019
#OKtoAsk2019
#RANZCOG19
#RANZCP2019
#ruralhealthconf
#VMIAC2019
#WHOcollabAHPRA
Croakey Professional Services archive
#CommunityControl Twitter Festival
Croakey projects archive
#IndigenousHealthSummit
#IndigenousNCDs
#JustClimate
#JustJustice
Croakey register of influence
Croakey Register of Influencers in Public Health
Croakey Register of Unreleased Documents
Naked Doctor
Poems of Public Health
Summer Reading 2016-2017
Summer Reading 2017-2018
The Koori Woman
Wonky Health
CroakeyGO archive 2017 – 2018
CroakeyGo 2017
#CroakeyGO Adelaide 2017
#CroakeyGO Melbourne 2017
#CroakeyGO Newcastle 2017
#CroakeyGO Sydney 2017
CroakeyGo 2018
#CroakeyGO #QuantumWords 2018
#CroakeyGO #VicVotes 2018
#CroakeyGO Albury 2018
#CroakeyGO Callan Park 2018
#CroakeyGO Carnarvon 2018
#CroakeyGO Marrickville 2018
#CroakeyGO Palm Island 2018
Elections and Budgets 2013 – 2019
#AusVotesHealth Twitter Festival 2019
#Health4NSW
#HealthElection16
Federal Budget 2009-2010
Federal Budget 2010
Federal Budget 2011
Federal Budget 2012-2013
Federal Budget 2013-14
Federal Budget 2014-15
Federal Budget 2015-16
Federal Budget 2016-17
Federal Budget 2017/18
Federal Budget 2018-19
Federal Election 2010
Federal Election 2013
Federal Election 2016
Federal Election 2019
NSW Election 2015
NSW Election 2019
NT Election 2016
Qld Election 2015
Victorian Election 2014
WA election 2021
Support non-profit public interest journalism
Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
codesign
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#FoodGovernance2021
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#GreenHealthForum21
#HealthClimateSolutions21
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#ICEM22
#IndigenousClimateJustice21
#NAISA22
#NNF2021
#RANZCP2021
#RANZCP2022
#RTP22
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#ValueBasedCare
#WCepi2021
#YHFSummit
Choosing Wisely National Meeting 2022
Equally Well 2022 Symposium
GiantSteps22
Croakey Professional Services
#CommunityControl
#COVIDthinktank21
#KidneyCareTogether
ACSQHC series
ACSQHC series 2019
ACSQHC series 2020
ACSQHC series 2021
ACSQHC series 2022
CATSINaM 25 Years
Lowitja Indigenous knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
@WePublicHealth2022
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#HealthyCOP26
#HousingJusticeAus
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#MRFFtransparency
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVID SNAPS
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
ICYMI
Inside Story
Journal Watch
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Donor-funded journalism
Donor-funded journalism – 2020
Donor-funded journalism – 2021
Donor-funded journalism – 2022
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2022-23
Federal Election 2022
SA election 2022
The Election Wrap (2022)
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
Flooding 2022
Global health
NHS
NSW 2022
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
Aged care
Allied healthcare
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
Health reform
health regulation
Health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
Mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
Nursing and midwifery
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
Primary Health Networks
Primary healthcare
private health insurance
Rural and remote health
Safety and quality of healthcare
screening
sexual health
Social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
Indigenous health
#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
Health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
Monkeypox
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
Public health
Public interest journalism
road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
commercial determinants of health
discrimination
education
Housing
justice
Justice Reinvestment
NBN
Newstart
poverty
Racism
social policy
Summer reading 2020-2021
Summer reading 2021-2022
Tasmanian election 2021
The Croakey Archives
#cripcroakey
#HealthEquity16
#HealthMatters
#IHMayDay (all years)
#IHMayDay 2014
#IHMayDay15
#IHMayday16
#IHMayDay17
#IHMayDay18
#LoveRural 2014
Croakey Conference News Service 2013 – 2019
2013 conferences
Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation Forum 2013
Australian Health Promotion Association Conference 2013
Closing the Credibility Gap 2013
CRANAplus Conference 2013
FASD Conference 2013
Health Workforce Australia 2013
International Health Literacy Network Conference 2013
NACCHO Summit 2013
National Rural Health Conference 2013
Oceania EcoHealth Symposium 2013
PHAA conference 2013
2014 conferences
#IPCHIV14
AIDA Conference 2014
Congress Lowitja 2014
CRANAplus conference 2014
Cultural Solutions - Healing Foundation forum 2014
Lowitja Institute Continuous Quality Improvement conference 2014
National Suicide Prevention Conference 2014
Racism and children/youth health symposium 2014
Rural & Remote Health Scientific Symposium 2014
2015 conferences
#CPHCEforum
#CRANAplus15
#HSR15
#NRHC15
#OTCC15
Population Health Congress 2015
2016 conferences
#AHHAsim16
#AHMRC16
#ANROWS2016
#ATSISPEP
#AusCanIndigenousWellness
#cphce2016
#CPHCEforum16
#CRANAplus2016
#IAMRA2016
#LowitjaConf2016
#PreventObesity16
#TowardsRecovery
#VMIAC16
#WearablesCEH
#WICC2016
2017 conferences
#17APCC
#ACEM17
#AIDAconf2017
#BTH20
#CATSINaM17
#ClimateHealthStrategy
#IAHAConf17
#IDS17
#LBQWHC17
#LivingOurWay
#OKtoAskAu
#OTCC2017
#ResearchTranslation17
#TheMHS2017
#VMIACConf17
#WCPH2017
Australian Palliative Care Conference
2018 conferences
#6rrhss
#ACEM18
#AHPA2018
#ATSISPC18
#CPHCE
#MHED18
#NDISMentalHealth
#Nurseforce
#OKToAsk2018
#RANZCOG18
#ResearchIntoPolicy
#VHAawards
#VMIACAwards18
#WISPC18
2019 Conferences
#ACEM19
#CPHCE19
#EquallyWellAust
#GiantSteps19
#HealthAdvocacyWIM
#KTthatWorks
#LowitjaConf2019
#MHAgeing
#NNF2019
#OKtoAsk2019
#RANZCOG19
#RANZCP2019
#ruralhealthconf
#VMIAC2019
#WHOcollabAHPRA
Croakey Professional Services archive
#CommunityControl Twitter Festival
Croakey projects archive
#IndigenousHealthSummit
#IndigenousNCDs
#JustClimate
#JustJustice
Croakey register of influence
Croakey Register of Influencers in Public Health
Croakey Register of Unreleased Documents
Naked Doctor
Poems of Public Health
Summer Reading 2016-2017
Summer Reading 2017-2018
The Koori Woman
Wonky Health
CroakeyGO archive 2017 – 2018
CroakeyGo 2017
#CroakeyGO Adelaide 2017
#CroakeyGO Melbourne 2017
#CroakeyGO Newcastle 2017
#CroakeyGO Sydney 2017
CroakeyGo 2018
#CroakeyGO #QuantumWords 2018
#CroakeyGO #VicVotes 2018
#CroakeyGO Albury 2018
#CroakeyGO Callan Park 2018
#CroakeyGO Carnarvon 2018
#CroakeyGO Marrickville 2018
#CroakeyGO Palm Island 2018
Elections and Budgets 2013 – 2019
#AusVotesHealth Twitter Festival 2019
#Health4NSW
#HealthElection16
Federal Budget 2009-2010
Federal Budget 2010
Federal Budget 2011
Federal Budget 2012-2013
Federal Budget 2013-14
Federal Budget 2014-15
Federal Budget 2015-16
Federal Budget 2016-17
Federal Budget 2017/18
Federal Budget 2018-19
Federal Election 2010
Federal Election 2013
Federal Election 2016
Federal Election 2019
NSW Election 2015
NSW Election 2019
NT Election 2016
Qld Election 2015
Victorian Election 2014
WA election 2021

Improving the physical health of people with mental illness

The Equally Well 2022 Symposium will showcase initiatives to improve the physical health of people with mental illness, as well as identifying barriers to improved care.

Croakey editor and journalist Cate Carrigan is covering the event for the Croakey Conference News Service, and previews the #EquallyWellAu22 discussions below.

(It’s not too late to register to join the symposium, whether virtually or in person at the Gold Coast campus of Griffith University.)


Cate Carrigan writes:

Every day in Australia, many more people with mental illness die from often preventable physical illness than as a result of suicide, yet most are still not asked about their physical health when they seek healthcare.

That’s a key finding of a soon-to-be-released report from Lived Experience Australia (LEA), which found those with mental illness are missing out on basic health checks, leading to a delay in diagnosis and effective treatment for chronic illness, cancer and other conditions.

Professor Sharon Lawn, Chair and Executive Director of LEA, and a former Mental Health Commissioner for South Australia, will launch the report at the second Equally Well Symposium, which will be held in April as a virtual event as well as in person at the Gold Coast Campus of Griffith University.

She told Croakey of her own experience with clinicians overlooking the physical health of those with mental illness.

Lawn’s husband (who helped prepare her talk for the symposium), a former professional Rugby League player, has lived with schizophrenia for decades, for many years undiagnosed and untreated.

Sharon Lawn and husband. Photo provided

Her husband grew up amidst family violence, poverty, racism, sexual and physical abuse, but also with a culture of strong and fierce commitment to family and football.

While his eventual diagnosis of schizophrenia and treatment with anti-psychotic drugs helped address his mental health, the treatments have also led to much poorer physical health.

The metabolic impact on his weight – he gained 30 kilos in the month following his first admission to hospital – and overall health has been significant.

“Those things chase each other and cause other things. You become more inactive and are likely to put on more weight – it’s quite a vicious cycle,” Lawn explained.

“He was homeless when we met 20 years ago and the impact of that time living in deprived situations has also left him with other insidious and continuing physical health problems.”

Now in his 50s, her husband has had several periods of hospitalisation for mental illness, many medications, and accumulating diagnoses for his physical health.

Self portrait by Professor Sharon Lawn’s husband. Photo supplied

Taking time

Lawn, a Professor in the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in Adelaide, wants clinicians to know that it is not just a matter of telling someone to ‘be healthy, eat better and move more’ – it’s about trying to walk in their shoes.

“It’s very hard when you’re struggling with trauma and problems with motivation and, like my husband, have trouble initiating, planning and thinking about what to do most days,” she said.

Many days are spent rising late or staying in bed, resulting in loss of muscle tone and bone strength, and – like many with schizophrenia – smoking (people with schizophrenia are five times more likely to smoke than the general population).

“Add that to the mix and you have a real problem with the person’s ability to walk as far as they used to, be motivated and not spend their day just sitting, smoking and sleeping – losing connection with people and self-esteem,” she said.

Lawn wants clinicians to see the whole man – not just the schizophrenia –  and tap into her husband’s past, what happened in his childhood and his success with Rugby, to help him find motivation.

“It’s like they are just standing by and watching things move in a particular direction and feel powerless to change anything.”

Lawn believes clinicians could be more up-to-date with evidence-based treatments, such as effective smoking cessation programs, and also tap into what gives her husband self-esteem.

She wants consistency and follow-up to ensure there is feedback and motivation to keep going, rather than every contact being an isolated incident.

The impacts of her husband’s mental and physical health are there every day and are felt by the whole family, but particularly her husband.

Yet family members are often left out of the discussion. “We’re the magic fairy navigator who sits in the waiting room but often doesn’t get included,” she said.

The message to the conference from her husband will be for clinicians to ‘be hopeful’ and ‘take an interest in more than just compliance with medications’, ask more about the patient as a person, and find what motivates them.

He also wants clinicians to work on boosting his self-esteem and make a living plan to measure small steps and progress, using scales and other tools regularly to monitor weight and breathing, and work with the family, rather than leaving them in the waiting room.

Lawn echoes her husband’s comments, saying family members are often in the background doing the prompting, supporting and encouraging.

Tackling barriers

Professor Russell Roberts

The National Director of Equally Well Australia, Professor Russell Roberts, said a key focus of the 12-13 April symposium would be tackle barriers such as those outlined by Professor Sharon Lawn, as well as sharing success stories.

With the theme: ‘Equally Well: Action and collaboration for hope and health’, the gathering will bring together experts from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia to share innovative practice and developments aimed at improving the physical health and wellbeing of people living with mental illness.

It’s a chance for signatories to the Equally Well Consensus Statement initiated by the National Mental Health Commission in 2017 to touch base, check progress and reset.

Roberts said most people with mental illness were still not asked about their mental health by clinicians, showing there is still a long way to go.

This is happening even though the risk of premature death from chronic physical diseases is “far, far higher than the risk of death by suicide”, he told Croakey.

“We’re talking about over 70 people a day with mental illness dying early from mainly preventable chronic health conditions and still they are not being asked about things like vaccination, smoking, cholesterol, blood sugar and cancer screenings in consultations,” said Roberts.

“This is a no brainer – basic health checks, such as cancer screening, can result in early detection and effective treatment, yet too few people with mental illness are being encouraged or supported to access it.”

Vaccination rates – for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases – are also much lower for those with mental illness, with vaccine-preventable deaths five times higher and vaccine-preventable hospitalisations seven times higher for those with mental illness than the general population.

The fact that people living with mental illness are not getting basic, inexpensive health-preserving and life-saving vaccinations shows how far away we still are from achieving equity of access and health outcomes, he said.

But Roberts also pointed to many successful initiatives in recent years, with Equally Well goals now on the national agenda, and clinicians, services and advocacy bodies implementing hundreds of initiatives to address the physical health of those with mental illness.

Our motto is for people and organisations to do ‘what they can, where they can, when they can’, whether that be employing someone to focus on physical health or a state government implementing a comprehensive Equally Well strategy, he said.

Clinicians had told EWA of people living with undiagnosed chronic illness for decades who had been successfully treated simply because the mental health team started a program to also focus the physical health of those with mental illness, not just their psychiatric diagnosis.

Gym power

One initiative successfully boosting physical health for people with mental illness is an innovative gym and swim program at an aquatic centre at Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west.

Barriers stopping people with mental illness from accessing gyms and pools can be financial and emotional, with body image linked to medicine-induced weight gain, and lack of confidence being some of the hurdles.

“I know with my lived experience being able to go to the gym with people who look like me, and have similar experiences to me, made me feel more comfortable in the gym,” Katie Thorburn, a lived experience peer support worker with Marrickville CORE Mental Health Team in inner west Sydney, told Croakey.

Thorburn, who will present her team’s findings at the EW symposium, is part of a team from the Sydney Local Health District (SLHD), which put together a program that made going to the gym a fun and safe experience for people with mental illness, and, most importantly, built a community.

The Gym and Swim Program (GSP), an initiative of the Living Well Living Longer team at SLHD, boosted confidence and fitness levels, with many participants going on to sign up for regular gym sessions.

Exercise physiologist with Katie Thorburn. Photo provided by Sydney Local Health District

Based at the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre, the program has exercise physiologists working alongside peer support workers to provide personalised programming for participants, all within a low-cost, flexible membership environment.

It’s one of many initiatives to address the dramatic life expectancy gap between people living with a mental illness – 80 percent of whom also have a serious physical health condition – and the general population. For those with severe mental illness life can be shortened 14-23 years.

Thorburn said the supportive environment was key to the program’s success, with participants waiting for each other, walking in together, and urging each other on while using the equipment.

“It’s great to be doing exercises with other people who might have similar mobility …. with people who understand the struggles with medication and related health issues.”

Thorburn backs wider use of programs such as the Gym and Swim, featuring collaboration between local organisations, exercise physiologists and – most importantly – lived experience peer workers to ensure the needs of consumers are understood.

Since it began in 2018, the program’s 106 participants have completed 1,323 exercise sessions, with 25 attending more than 10 sessions and others transitioning to general community exercise services, something Thorburn views as a mark of the program’s success.

One participant – nicknamed the ‘godfather’ – had gone on to win a six-week general fitness challenge at the centre, and others had started doing their own gym sessions.

Thorburn said the GSP broke down the barriers to using a gym by creating a supportive community, with participants ringing each other to see who was going and how they were feeling

“It became an organic thing – not just a program that relies on the facilitators but something that becomes self-sustaining,” said Thorburn.

Peer support

Conference participants will also hear about research on a physical activity intervention program for emergency service workers, which found peers crucial in engaging and motivating participants.

A workforce regularly exposed to trauma – and even more so through the last two years of bushfires, COVID-19 and devastating floods – emergency service workers such as police, paramedics, fire fighters and State Emergency Service volunteers, are at a heightened risk of poor mental and physical health.

In Australia, one emergency service worker takes their life every six weeks and emergency service workers are twice as likely to experience suicidal thoughts as the general population. In addition, one in 10 develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Photo supplied by Behind the Seen

Dr Grace McKeon from the School of Psychiatry at the University of NSW, who will deliver the paper on behalf of the multi-university research team, told Croakey that despite the mental health risks, there are significant barriers to emergency workers getting the healthcare they need.

These included a workplace culture built around being ‘tough’.

To address this, McKeon’s team recruited peer facilitators – mainly former emergency service workers who had been diagnosed with PTSD – to work with exercise physiologists in delivering an online physical activity intervention program to current and ex-emergency service workers.

“We know that emergency service workers with PTSD are not only experiencing high rates of mental health issues but high rates of diabetes and cardio-vascular disease and that’s what drove us to deliver this intervention.”

To help recruit participants, the research team enlisted the ex-service community organisation, ‘Behind the Seen’, founded by a former fire fighter – who left the service with PTSD – and his partner, a social worker.

Delivered online to ensure access for those in remote and regional settings, participants were given Fitbits to monitor their activity, and encouraged to engage in any physical activity they enjoyed – be that lifting weights, walking, riding a bike or other forms of exercise.

McKeon said the program significantly eased levels of psychological distress but one of the most rewarding outcomes was seeing strong friendships forged.

The peer facilitators, with their credibility and knowledge, were critical in understanding how the participants were feeling – if they didn’t feel like exercising on a particular day and normalising those ups and downs, she said.

In feedback, the peer facilitators, many of whom had lost part of their identity due to PSTD-related job loss, said they found participation rewarding, boosting their own mental and physical health.

Dr Grace McKeon

Keynote speakers

The symposium aims to prioritise First Nations people, LGBTQI+ people, and those from culturally diverse backgrounds, and to focus on consumer and carer co-design in the planning and rollout of programs.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Professor David Castle, Scientific Director of the Centre for Complex Interventions (CCI) at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH), Toronto, Canada, on a workforce to help consumers
  • Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide, David Coleman
  • Cardiologist and Associate Professor David Colquhoun from the National Heart Foundation and
  • Caro Swanson from Equally Well NZ with a consumer perspective
  • Andy Bell from the Centre for Mental Health UK.

Concurrent sessions will cover primary care, partnerships, prevention, co-design, models for online care, chronic care, physical activity and diet, care coordination and lifestyle.

More details

To register for the symposium follow this link.

On Twitter follow: #EquallyWellAu22

Also follow this Twitter list of participants.

Bookmark this link to track the Croakey Conference News Service coverage of the conference, with Cate Carrigan reporting. Also see our coverage of the 2019 event.

 


 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Search by: Categories or tags

Search
Generic filters
Filter by Categories
@WePublicHealth2021
#CroakeyLIVE #Budget2021Health
#MHReform
#OutOfTheBox
#QldVotesHealth
#RCIADIC30Years
#RuralHealthJustice
#TRIPSwaiver
2021 Floods
Budget2020Health
Bushfires
codesign
community control
COVID-19
Croakey Conference News Service
#2020ResearchExcellence
#21OPCC
#BackToTheFire
#FoodGovernance2021
#GiantSteps21
#Govern4Health
#GreenHealthForum21
#HealthClimateSolutions21
#HealthReImagined
#HearMe21
#ICEM22
#IndigenousClimateJustice21
#NAISA22
#NNF2021
#RANZCP2021
#RANZCP2022
#RTP22
#SAHeapsUnfair
#ShiftingGearsSummit
#ValueBasedCare
#WCepi2021
#YHFSummit
Choosing Wisely National Meeting 2022
Equally Well 2022 Symposium
GiantSteps22
Croakey Professional Services
#CommunityControl
#COVIDthinktank21
#KidneyCareTogether
ACSQHC series
ACSQHC series 2019
ACSQHC series 2020
ACSQHC series 2021
ACSQHC series 2022
CATSINaM 25 Years
Healthdirect Australia series 2019
Lowitja Indigenous knowledge translation series
Croakey projects
@WePublicHealth
@WePublicHealth2020
@WePublicHealth2022
#CommunityMatters
#CoveringClimateNow
#CroakeyLIVE #USvotesHealth
#CroakeyREAD
#CroakeyVOICES
#CroakeyYOUTH
#HealthyCOP26
#HousingJusticeAus
#JusticeCOVID
#LookingLocal
#MRFFtransparency
#OutOfPocket
#TalkingTeeth
AroundTheTraps
Caring for the Frontline
COVID SNAPS
COVIDglobalMHseries
Croakey longreads
CroakeyEXPLORE
Gavin Mooney
ICYMI
Inside Story
Journal Watch
Summer Reading 2019-2020
The Conversation
The Health Wrap
TOO MUCH of a Good Thing
CroakeyGO
#CroakeyGO #NavigatingHealth
#GamblingHarms
#HeatwaveHealth
Mapping CroakeyGo
CroakeyNews
Cultural determinants of health
Digital platforms
Donor-funded journalism
Donor-funded journalism – 2020
Donor-funded journalism – 2021
Donor-funded journalism – 2022
Elections and budgets
Federal Budget 2019-20
Federal Budget 2020-21
Federal Budget 2022-23
Federal Election 2022
SA election 2022
The Election Wrap (2022)
Federal Budget 2021-22
Global health and climate change
2019-20 climate bushfire emergency
asylum seeker and refugee health
Climate emergency
disasters
Ebola
extreme weather events
flooding 2011
Flooding 2022
Global health
NHS
NSW 2022
NZ Election 2017
WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
Aged care
Allied healthcare
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
euthanasia
evidence-based issues
general practice
genetics
health & medical marketing
health and medical education
health and medical research
Health Care Homes
health ethics
health financing and costs
Health reform
health regulation
Health workforce
HIV/AIDS
hospitals
HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
Mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
Nursing and midwifery
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
Primary Health Networks
Primary healthcare
private health insurance
Rural and remote health
Safety and quality of healthcare
screening
sexual health
Social media and healthcare
suicide