The mental health picture is stark.

    Press/Media: Press / Media


    Radio interview. ABC Wollongong

    Period10 Oct 2018

    Media contributions


    Media contributions

    • TitleThe mental health picture is stark
      Degree of recognitionNational
      Media typeRadio
      Duration/Length/Size7 minutes
      DescriptionThe mental health picture is stark.

      CSU researchers, led by Associate Professor Russell Roberts (Charles Sturt University, are leading a national project to improve the physical health of people living with mental illness)

      Every hour of every day one person living with mental illness dies prematurely due to cancer, heart disease or lung disease.

      Research shows on average, people with mental illness die 20 years earlier than the total population’s average life expectancy. At the moment, people living with mental illness in Australia are at twice the risk of early death and three times the risk if they live in rural communities.

      This life expectancy gap between people living with mental illness and the rest of the population is getting larger every decade. It appears the benefits of improved health care in Australia and not being passed on to people living with mental illness. Coexisting physical illness is often missed due to ‘diagnostic overshadowing’ where mental illness becomes the sole focus and the coexisting physical illness is left undiagnosed and untreated. This is a dangerous oversight because 80% of people living with mental illness have a coexisting physical illness.

      For every person who dies due to suicide, 10 die prematurely due to heart disease, respiratory disease or lung cancer. Furthermore, ongoing chronic physical illness and disability is a major contributor to suicidality.

      While cardiovascular and respiratory disease are responsible for most of the premature deaths of people living with mental illness, surprisingly, it is prostate cancer and breast cancer that carry the highest elevated risk of early death.

      Recently, Equally Well has launched a new website to help people living with mental illness, their carers, clinicians and policy makers to access resources to help make a difference and improve the physical health of people living with mental illness. The website and social media campaigns are led by Drs Small and Mehmet and Nayeem from CSU seeks to promote and raise awareness of this important but under recognised issue and to encourage collaboration and sharing of successful strategies already in place across Australia. One such success story is in Mudgee NSW where the local mental health team and GP practice have partnered to address mental and physical health simultaneously. This initiative has resulted in major improvements in clients’ physical health and also able to significantly reduce hospitalisation rates.

      The physical health of people living with mental illness is also a priority of The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan (2017) which commits to Equally Well.

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      Media Enquiries: Bruce Andrews
      Russell 0418 852 748
      Chris Maylea

      PersonsRussell Roberts, Chris Maylea