News + Comment 2015

‘Close the gap’ on life expectancy for Australians with mental illness

Australians living with mental illness – especially severe, ongoing conditions –have dramatically worse physical health that the rest of the community. A program from mental health charity, SANE Australia, in partnership with Neami National, aims to change this unacceptable situation.
In a recent report The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) stated that it 'is seriously concerned about the inequalities in terms of physical health and life expectancy of people with serious mental illness'.
‘People with severe mental illness are likely to die up to 25 years earlier than the general population from conditions such as respiratory or cardiovascular diseases caused by obesity, smoking, and a lack of exercise. This is alarming and avoidable,’ says Jack Heath, CEO of SANE Australia.
‘There is incredible value in receiving one-on-one support from someone who shares a lived experience of mental illness,’ explains Arthur Papakotsias, CEO of Neami National.
‘It shifts the dynamic to one of equals, where the coach and the person being coached have common ground to build on. This is one of the most powerful approaches we can adopt to improve the physical health of Australians living with serious mental health issues.’

SANE Australia has partnered with Neami National to develop a unique Peer Health Coaching program 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.
After piloting and evaluating the program over three years, the two organisations are ready to offer it to other mental health organisations across Australia.