Crowds standing and sitting in a circle around a figure, blurred in the background.

In August 2021, the Mitchell Institute and Equally Well Australia launched the Being Equally Well Roadmap of policy and system change recommendations that would help improve the physical health care of people living with serious mental illness.

These recommendations were made as people with serious mental illness in Australia die up to 23 years earlier than the rest of the population, mostly due to preventable chronic diseases.

During their lives, this portion of the population live for many years with deteriorating physical health due to debilitating preventable disease and lack of attention to preventive treatment or advice to help maintain or improve their health.

People with serious mental illness are:

  • 6 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease
  • 5 times more likely to smoke
  • likely to die 14–23 years earlier than the general population
  • 4 times more likely to die from respiratory disease
  • account for approximately one-third of all avoidable deaths.

Following the launch of the Roadmap, the Mitchell Institute and Equally Well Australia worked with a wide range of individuals and organisations to engage and promote uptake and implementation of the recommendations in the Roadmap. 

A range of roundtable events and advisory groups of experts were convened in 2021 to facilitate detailed determination of how to implement the various aspects of the Roadmap recommendations.

This Being Equally Well Implementation Action Plan summarises the outcomes and next steps from those implementation roundtables and advisory groups. It provides the wider sector of stakeholders who can help make these improvements happen – policy-makers, services providers, practitioners, consumers – with clear guidance about what can be done now, by whom, and how.

These include:

  • Shared care and facilitation of collaborative patient care
  • Structural funding adjustments to enable the existing workforce to be better utilised and motivated
  • Collection and collation of health data to enable quality assessment of the system and facilitate better monitoring and recall of patients to ensure their physical health is being paid regular and continuous attention.

The Being Equally Well Implementation Action Plan was launched in October 2022 at a dedicated symposium that also highlighted the publication of a Medical Journal of Australia special supplement on Being Equally Well (PDF) that fills some identified of the gaps in research and supports and strengthens the Roadmap recommendations.