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International consensus on improving physical health

25 June 2013 - 30 June 2015

The National Mental Health Commission formally welcomes the launch of the International HeAL declaration, which was released in the UK last week and aims to reverse the trend of people with severe mental illness dying early, by better addressing risks for future physical illness.  

In particular, the Commission strongly welcomes the declaration’s set of ambitious, tangible targets for the next five years, which reflect international consensus on key principles, processes and standards. The declaration was developed by a group of clinicians, services users, family members and researchers from Australia, the UK and nine other countries.

The issue of improving physical health is one we have been committed to since our inception, making it the focus of our ‘Thriving, Not Just Surviving’ chapter in Australia’s Inaugural National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in 2012. One of our ten recommendations from that Report Card was for all Governments to set targets and work together to reduce early death and improve the physical health of people with mental illness.

Our Chair Allan Fels, along with other Commissioners also attended the National Ministerial Summit on Addressing the Premature Death of People with Mental Illness in May this year. Key outcomes from the summit included ensuring that health professionals understand and accept their responsibilities to consider and communicate the impact of treatment, including physical health and to make physical health checks a routine part of care and support.

The Commission strongly believes that people with severe mental illness should have the same expectations of a rich and contributing life as the general population and the launch of the InternationalHeAL declaration is an important addition to the significant international debate on physical health.

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