Budget submission: Funding will cut 23-year life expectancy gap

Leading mental and physical health experts call for Government to allocate $13.7m to deliver new pilot mental health initiatives.
Tuesday 15 February 2022

Leading mental and physical health experts and consumers have called for the Government to allocate $13.7m to deliver new pilot health initiatives to help cut the up to 23-year life expectancy gap for people with a severe mental illness.

Nearly 80% of people with serious mental illness die prematurely of chronic physical health conditions that could be effectively managed and often prevented.

In its pre-budget submission (PDF, 336.36 KB), the Being Equally Well collaboration has outlined four programs that will deliver improved and more joined up healthcare for those with severe mental illness.

The collaboration produced a Being Equally Well National Policy Roadmap last year that provided recommendations for improved health care service arrangements to overcome the barriers to better health care for people living with serious mental illness.

The recommendations call for funding support for shared care between mental health and medical (physical health) care services. The Roadmap was launched by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Professor Rosemary Calder from Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute leads the Being Equally Well collaboration.

“It is truly shocking that more than 470,000 Australians face dying early - many up to 23 years early - because they aren’t receiving the same level of healthcare for their physical ill health as other Australians,” she said.

Through funding and implementing better, joined up care and supports, these consumers can receive quality care for their both their mental and physical health and lead longer, healthier lives.

The Being Equally Well budget submission calls for funding for:

  • developing National Clinical Shared Care Guidelines to assist psychiatrists and GPs, together with pharmacists and consumers, to coordinate the treatment and management of mental and physical health
  • establishing nurse navigator roles and services to work within GP clinics to provide clinical care coordination and support for patients
  • establishing a National Quality Improvement Collaborative for rapid and comprehensive implementation of clinical guidelines and constant improvements in clinical practice.

Developed in partnership with GPs, psychiatrists, mental-health consumers and carers, and other health professionals, the Being Equally Well roadmap included the above recommendations, plus:

  • Medicare Benefits Scheme funding for GPs to set up dedicated supports to ensure regular health checks and screening as well as treatment of chronic conditions
  • ending gap payments for medication, including for cardiovascular diseases risk reduction medication and nicotine patches.