High levels of stress, being overweight and physically inactive, are the most common health concerns for people with mental illnesses, revealed in the latest survey by SANE Australia.
Counselling and exercise were reported as the most effective ways to deal with these health issues, however expense, medication side-effects, poor motivation due to the illness, and lack of referral by health professionals make it difficult for people to access these strategies.
Seventy–four percent of those surveyed reported that counselling was the most effective treatment after medication to improve their health, while 57% found exercise of great benefit. Respondents indicated that they try to keep well by using a range of strategies, including yoga, relaxation techniques, diet, vitamins and natural therapies, but that alternative therapies were less effective than counselling and exercise.
Barbara Hocking, Executive Director of SANE Australia, says: ‘We now know that people with mental illness, such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and schizophrenia, have serious concerns about their general health and that they are active in trying to improve it. However lack of access to, and the costs associated with, these services make it difficult for them. We must take action to address these barriers.’
SANE Australia recommends:
- physical health screening to be coordinated with mental health treatment
- referral by clinicians to programs that promote an active and healthy lifestyle
- GPs to refer people for up to 12 sessions of counselling with a psychologist, covered by Medicare.
For more information about how to keep well with a mental illness, order the SANE SmokeFree Zone and The SANE Guide to Healthy Living through the SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE or at www.sane.org
The research bulletin ‘Mental Illness and Keeping Well’ is available at www.sane.org
Barbara Hocking, Executive Director of SANE Australia, is available for interview.
SANE media contact
03 9682 5933
0414 427 291