Physical health is especially important for people living with a mental illness, as research shows they are at a higher risk of physical health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. For people affected by physical health conditions, there are higher rates of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
The SANE Australia Mind + Body initiative recognises that a healthier life includes both mental and physical wellness, and promotes common sense steps to improve the health of the whole person. As well as campaigning for improved treatments and support, SANE has developed a range of resources in this area.
The SANE Guide to Healthy Living has been written specifically for people affected by mental illness who are interested in a healthy lifestyle and looking after their physical health.
The Healthy Living DVD has been developed specially for people affected mental illness who are interested in a healthy lifestyle. It features people who share their experiences of getting healthy, staying healthy and finding support.The kit includes a DVD plus the SANE Guide to Healthy Living.
Regular health checks are especially important for people living with a mental illness, to pick up any potential problems early so they can be prevented, diagnosed and treated. SANE has developed resources to empower people with a mental illness to look after their physical health.
The Looking after your physical health when you have a mental illness factsheet includes a checklist of helpful tests and topics to discuss with your doctor (developed in partnership with St Vincent’s Health Service in Victoria). It is also available as a downloadable factsheet from the SANE website.
Healthy Living Programs
Are you looking for community based healthy lifestyle programs to join in your local area?
- Heart Foundation Walking
Heart Foundation Walking is Australia’s largest network of free community based walking groups led by volunteer community members. Participation in the walking groups is free. Each walking group is led by a community member (Walk Organiser) and groups are coordinated at a local level by community agencies (Area Coordinator).
The Heart Foundation Heartmoves program focuses on delivering low-to-moderate intensity exercise in small groups. Heartmoves is suitable for anyone who has not done any exercise in a while. Heartmoves caters for all adults, and is specifically designed to be safe for people who may have risk factors (such as obesity) or health conditions (such as arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes).
- Beat It! Physical Activity and Lifestyle Program
The Beat It program is an evidence-based exercise and lifestyle education/modification program that consists of twice weekly physical activity training plus fortnightly lifestyle education and nutrition sessions. This safe and effective group based, semi structured program is suitable for adults with or at risk of chronic diseases or with conditions such as obesity and metabolic syndrome.
- Lift for Life
The Lift for Life program is an evidence-based resistance-training program for people with, or at risk of, type 2 diabetes or other chronic diseases. It is available to adults of all ages. Participants undertake an initial assessment and an individualised program is then developed for each person. The Lift for Life program is conducted in small groups of up to 12 people over six months, with three distinct eight week phases.
- Healthy Eating Activity & Lifestyle (HEAL) Program
HEAL is an eight week nutrition and physical activity program that primarily targets adults who are at risk of developing lifestyle diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The program includes a one hour group based exercise session accompanied by one hour of nutrition education each week, with participants reviewed upon program completion and again at five and 12 months.
HEAL Information Sheet
- Shape Up Australia
As a nation, our waistlines are growing. Today, over 63% of Australian adults and one in four children are overweight or obese. Shape Up Australia is an initiative to help Australians reduce their waist measurements and improve their overall health and wellbeing.
SANE Australia has partnered with Neami National to develop and pilot a unique Peer Health Coaching program within Neami sites around Australia. The program is being run over a three-year period concluding in August 2015.
The focus of the Peer Health Coaching Program is to empower and support consumers to make health behaviour changes that will minimise the risk factors and better manage their physical health, to promote positive health outcomes.
SANE has developed a Peer Health Coach training workshop to train mental health Peer Support Workers to become Peer Health Coaches and support consumers who have identified a physical health goal they would like to address as part of their recovery.
The findings from the pilot will be used to develop evidence-based guidelines for use by mental health non-government organisations to adopt and implement a similar program within their organisation.
Expression of Interest
If you are interested in implementing a Peer Health Coach program into your mental health organisation and you already have Peer Support Workers employed, please complete an Expression of Interest.
Smoking rates among people with a mental illness are much higher than the general population. SANE has developed a range of resources including the SANE Guide to a Smokefree Life for people living with a mental illness who would like to become smokefree.
The SANE Smokefree Kit is designed for health workers to run quit smoking courses within their organisation specifically tailored for people with a mental illness. To download the program material appendixes from the Smokefree Kit click here.
When non government organisations provide supportive environments for reducing and quitting smoking, both clients and workers benefit. The SANE Smokefree Guidelines for NGOs are best practice in staying smokefree, helping your service develop and implement a smokefree policy.
The Management Guide for GPs is an information sheet developed in partnership with the University of Melbourne, Department of Psychiatry on smoking reduction and cessation for people with schizophrenia.
Smoking and Mental Illness: Costs is a study of the human and economic costs of smoking among people with a mental illness, a report prepared by Access Economics for SANE Australia.
The Australian Government, Department of Health, in partnership with SANE Australia have developed resources to help people with a mental illness quit or reduce smoking. Download the resources for the person quitting, supporter, and health professional and visit Quitnow to order copies of the campaign resources.
SANE has worked in partnership with other health organisations to develop Guides and other resources on good mental health for people with chronic physical health conditions. These include:
- SANE Guide to Good Mental Health for People affected by Kidney Disease. Available from Kidney Health Information Service: 1800 4 KIDNEY (543639)
- SANE Guide to Good Mental Health for People affected by Diabetes. Available from Diabetes Australia: phone 02 6232 3800 or visit www.diabetesaustralia.com.au to order.
- Staying mentally healthy when you have a spinal cord injury is a SANE factsheet available from the SANE website. See other helpful resources on living with spinal cord injury here.
Mental health non-government organisations (NGOs) can play an important role in improving the physical as well as mental health of people severely affected by mental illness. SANE's Healthy Living Toolkit includes best practice Guidelines for NGOs on this topic plus a range of other helpful resources.
The Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) has developed an information sheet for Community Managed Organisations (CMOs) outlining the physical health risks faced by people with long-term mental health issues. The questions throughout encourage reflection on approaches to supporting consumers.
Clinical Guidelines for the Physical Care of Mental Health Consumers: a comprehensive assessment and monitoring package for mental health and primary care clinicians
School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, University of Western Australia
The clinical guidelines package takes on a holistic approach, with a focus on five dimensions that impact upon a mental health consumer’s physical health. The package consists of a metabolic syndrome wall chart, a Clinician handbook, a psychosocial assessment booklet, and a set of three screening forms available to download here.