In a bid to help redress the health inequities for people with mental illness in WA, the HealthRight project, jointly partnered by the Faculty, has been successfully encouraging this group to visit their GP and tackle lifestyle risk factors.
At an event in September, individuals and organisations which were judged to have made a significant contribution to this endeavour were officially recognised at an awards ceremony.
The HealthRight Project was implemented in response to a UWA report published in 2001, Duty to Care, which highlighted some alarming statistics on the physical health of people with serious long-term mental illness. The study found that this group of people are more likely to die from preventable physical illness, such as heart disease and cancer and that death rates from preventable causes are 2.5 times higher for people with mental illness than the general population.
The project is run by the UWA School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, Community, Culture and Mental Health Unit and funded by the Mental Health Division in the Department of Health.
It has included a peer support program assisting people to access GPs and healthy lifestyle activities, and a health promotion campaign.
The awards were the culmination of a one-year Healthy Lifestyles program, funded by Healthway. Special guests at the event included Faculty Dean Professor Ian Puddey, Professor Sasha Janca, Head of the School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, and Tim Rolfe, Clinical Consultant from the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist,.
HealthRight Project Officer Mrs Ann Bates said the HealthRight awards were an important way to acknowledge those who had made a commitment to supporting people with mental illness to look after their physical health.
“People with mental illness are often marginalised in the community and they can be affected by low confidence and motivation and reduced capacity for self care,” she said. “That’s why support and encouragement from others are vital for improved physical health and the recovery process.”
The awards were:
Individual Champion: Derek Horlin, Organisation Award: Subiaco Rehabilitation Service, and Special Commendation: Margaret Cook.