As well as having markedly higher rates of many physical disorders, people with a severe mental illness are two-and-a-half times more likely to die from preventable physical illness than the general population.
The package of comprehensive guidelines and information relating to the physical healthcare of mental health consumers was put together by Senior Research Officer Susanne Stanley and Associate Professor Jonathan Laugharne, from UWA’s School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.
The package aims to help mental health clinicians and primary care clinicians take a more holistic approach to the care of patients with mental disorders.
“An awareness of high ill-health and mortality rates led to the HealthRight Advisory Group’s (WA Office of Mental Health) 2004 Who is your GP? report, advocating that mental health professionals take more responsibility for the physical health of their patients,” Ms Stanley said.
“In February last year, the former WA Department of Health – Mental Health Division, now the Mental Health Commission, authorised a review of both national and international literature to identify existing research, clinical guidelines and protocols addressing the physical health of mental health consumers.”
Dr Rowan Davidson, Chief Psychiatrist with WA Department of Health and Clinical Associate Professor in UWA’s School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, said the Department of Health continued to vigorously support and drive initiatives to ensure better equity for and focus on the holistic needs of people who suffered from mental illness.
“Importantly, these new guidelines acknowledge the need to address the physical ill-health and social disadvantage of people with mental illness. These vulnerabilities need the full acute care and recovery approaches that are supported in these excellent guidelines,” Dr Davidson said.