Mental, physical ill health link needs more action
The Australian Greens have called on the Government to prioritise the poor physical health of people with mental illness across the national health system.
Speaking during Schizophrenia Awareness Week, which starts today, Australian Greens spokesperson for Mental Health, Senator Penny Wright, said it has become increasingly clear that there is a strong link between severe mental illness and extremely poor physical health.
"People with a severe mental illness, on average, die 25 years earlier than the rest of the community," Senator Wright said. "They lose a third of an average life span.
"People living with a psychotic illness are more likely to have diabetes, be obese or smoke. Their rate of alcohol and drug abuse is also higher than in the general population.
"The relationship between mental and physical illness requires much greater attention, and action, from Government to turn these tragic statistics around."
Last week, Senator Wright moved a motion in the Senate - which was co-sponsored by Australian Greens spokesperson for Health, Senator Richard Di Natale - to highlight this issue. The motion gained the support of the Senate.
"The burden of chronic disease amongst people with mental illness is higher than amongst the general population and needs urgent attention," said Dr Di Natale.
"Schizophrenia Awareness Week is a time to restate our commitment to addressing the complex health needs of people living with a mental illness."
The full transcript of the motion can be found here.