A new report is recommending major changes to prevent people with serious mental health conditions from dying between 14 and 23 years earlier than other Australians. And if fully realised, the changes won't only benefit those who have severe mental health conditions or care for people with them.
A shared model of care has been outlined in Being Equally Well, a new national policy roadmap from the Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy at Victoria University, the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, and Equally Well Australia.
Professor Maximilian de Courten is the Director of the Mitchell Institute.
"We have this huge gap in life expectancy between people with severe mental illness and age-matched Australians who don't have those illnesses. Between 14 and 23 years, those people with severe mental illness die earlier than the average Australian."
Almost 80 per cent of Australians with serious mental health conditions die as a result of chronic physical health conditions that can be effectively managed and often prevented.
They're six times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease, five times more likely to die of a smoking-related illness, and four times more likely to die from respiratory disease.
Professor de Courten explains.
"To some extent, it's a result of our medical and healthcare system having specialised into different silos, so that these people quite often fall between the gaps, and one side is not being looked at in their treatment journey and quite often, the majority, if you look at what those people die of, it's physical health issues."
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