S19: LEAD & PANEL PRESENTATIONS: Physical and Mental Health

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By November 28, 2022 No Comments

Authors: Christine Kaine, Sharon Lawn, Victoria Langan, Whitney Lee, Stephen Suttie

Year: 2022

Event: 2022 TheMHS Conference

Subject: physical health, suicide prevention, services, reform

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

Abstract: LEAD PRESENTATION: Review of physical and mental health care in Australia
Christine Kaine, Sharon Lawn

People living with mental ill-health die, on average, 20 years earlier that the rest of the population. Improving the physical health of people living with mental ill-health is therefore a priority for system reform and suicide prevention.

Our national research project, a collaboration between Lived Experience Australia and Equally Well, aimed to better understand the level of support and focus on the physical health needs of people living with mental ill-health from the health and mental health professionals they have accessed.

The findings, from the experiences of 362 consumers and carers, highlight that the multiple opportunities to prevent the unnecessary and preventable early death of people living with mental ill-health are being missed by health professionals. Although almost all respondents had seen a health professional in the previous 12 months, and over two-thirds had seen a mental health professional, most consumers and carers report that mental health professionals did not inquire about the physical health of their clients.

This presentation will explore key findings and provide strategies focused on a model of ask, advise, assist and advocate where anyone working in health or mental health can impact on reducing number of consumers who die prematurely from preventable illnesses.

PANEL PRESENTATION: Creating a Healthy Smile Through Partnerships: Bringing Clinical and Community Together
Victoria Langan, Whitney Lee

Oral health for people living with a serious mental illness is a neglected issue. A qualitative study found that people valued their oral health and recognized that attending regular dental appointments played a key role in improving their overall wellbeing, however felt that their mental illness overwhelmed their ability to maintain good oral health and access dental services.

Consumer insight and staff feedback highlighted many complex challenges faced by those individuals trying to access clinical oral health services. Challenges include but are not limited to; lack of priority oral health treatment pathways, long public dental waitlists, cost, mental health symptoms, lack of mental health literacy in dental professionals and past negative experiences in dental practice provision.

Neami embarked on a partnership with the Australian Dental Health Foundation via a mental health promotion network, that has extended and provided best practise in oral health provision over an eight-year journey. This partnership has led to addressing many challenges, leading to consumers having improved access to free dental.

Through the course of the partnership, the ADHF accepted 150+ referrals from Neami, with over 60 individuals receiving fully completed treatment including 15 sets of free dentures and many were supported to access alternative dental services such as private dentists or through the public oral health system. Testimonials show the significant impact that both improved oral health and respectful treatment of patients by dentists have on the quality of life, self-esteem, and mental health of consumers.

PANEL PRESENTATION: In Mental Health, Physical Health Matters: How negative attitudes are impacting life expectancy
Victoria Langan, Stephen Suttie

Non- clinical services focus on support, advocacy and assistance, while clinical services on assessment, diagnostic and treatment tasks . There can be confusion around who is responsible for assessing and monitoring the Physical Health of consumers and lack of knowledge and training within mental health services regarding how to undertake this . The Neami Physical Health Team have conducted two physical health initiatives in LHD mental health services, which aimed to improve physical health care thought practice improvement and adapt a collaborative approach with clinical and CMO staff dealing with the physical health needs of consumers. This presentation will emphasise the importance of regular physical health checks for consumers, while accessing Clinical and Non-Clinical Mental Health services/units and detail the challenges faced by CMO’s when attempting to strengthen professional relationships, improve practice, attitudes, and physical health care service prevision.

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