Physical health and mental wellbeing: an evidence guide - cover image
13 April 2016

The chronic physical health problems and premature deaths of many people who experience mental illness are not acceptable. We must act to address this fundamental inequity.

This evidence guide pulls together what we can most confidently say about the links between physical health and mental illness and its treatments, and about what we could do better. It draws on the most robust research and includes examples of successful approaches from NSW, Australia and overseas. 

Despite ongoing attempts to address the poor physical health of mental health consumers, much remains to be achieved. This document aims to provide a summary of the evidence regarding what measures need to be taken to improve the physical health of people living with severe mental illness.

The guide discusses the evidence for comprehensive lifestyle interventions to help improve the physical health of consumers living with severe mental illness. It provides evidence from proven strategies to improve access to physical health services, as well as health promotion, prevention and early intervention for people with coexisting mental and physical health issues. Although there are significant physical health issues in people with mental health issues, (e.g. anxiety, depression, eating disorders and traumatic stress disorders) this guide focuses only on the physical health of those with severe mental illness, specifically bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses.

Australian and international literature, including clinical trials, systematic reviews and position statements, in addition to grey literature (unpublished academic literature) was reviewed to gather evidence and identify best practice initiatives, frameworks, policies and models. Evidence was collated and assessed to identify not only the currency of evidence but also its applicability, feasibility and potential for practical implementation in NSW.

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Last updated: 28 June 2017