Australian Schizophrenia Conference 2015
The Australasian Schizophrenia Conference (ASC) held in Melbourne (23-25 September 2015) showcased a dazzling array of cutting edge science. ASC2015 was a partnership between the Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) and the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research (ICoSR) led and under-written by Psychosis Australia.
The convenor, Prof Patrick McGorry assembled a stellar group of international and local speakers who covered the entire spectrum from basic neuroscience to practice based and service research.
ACT NOW ON MENTAL ILLNESS
ADVOCACY BY PEOPLE WITH LIVED EXERIENCE OF MENTAL ILLNESS
The Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia, along with its members in every state and territory are working collaboratively to bring 4 advocacy training workshops –
‘Act Now on Mental Illness’ to venues across Australia.
Adelaide – Tuesday 5th May
Melbourne – Wednesday 6th may
Townsville – Friday 8th May
Sydney – Monday 11th May
We hope that these workshops are just the beginning of a wave of activities.
The education of people with lived experience of serious mental illness about advocacy to politicians includes the role of respect, dignity, recovery and hope for a better quality of life. The advocates will learn about:
- Clarity about our key messages and why it is important
- Gaining better understanding of how to get the attention of politicians on your issue
- Increasing confidence to approach and advocate directly to politicians
- Learning to include your own story in your advocacy effectively
- Understanding of the importance of reporting back on outcomes from visits
In the following months of 2015, including important dates in the mental illness calendar – Schizophrenia Awareness Week (17 to 23 May) and World Mental Health Day (10 October) the newly trained advocates will make their appointments and meet with their local politician in their constituency offices with support from a MIFA member.
We hope to collect plenty of feedback on the experiences of the new advocates to:
- help inform further advocacy activity
- influence the work of MIFA and its members
- support existing advocates
- train additional advocates.
For more information contact the MIFA Office 08 8272 1018, or your local MIFA member (link to Members) Media Contact: David Meldrum 0400 443 011
World Mental Health Day, Friday 10th October 2014
Excerpts from – World Federation for Mental Health publication
‘Living with Schizophrenia ‘
The publication can be accessed in full at
Dr. Patt Franciosi- Chair, World Mental Health Day – WFMH Board of Directors 2014
The World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) has chosen the theme “Living with Schizophrenia” for its 2014 World Mental Health Day campaign in order to highlight changes in current thinking about the illness.
WFMH established World Mental Health Day in 1992; World Mental Health Day is observed in many countries in all parts of the world on October 10 with local, regional and national public awareness events.
This year we are taking advantage of these observances to let people know about important changes in the way mental health professionals view the illness. At least 26 million people are living with schizophrenia worldwide according to the World Health Organization, and many more are indirectly affected by it. The illness affects a person’s well being, shortens life and is among the top causes of disability globally. It is often neglected and misunderstood. It imposes a heavy toll on the individuals who experience it, and their family members and caregivers. And the high level of stigma associated with schizophrenia is an added burden.
Janet Meagher AM Consumer Activist (Australia)
If we look at an ongoing journey to “recover” or deal with the impacts of living with schizophrenia, my journey requires that….
• I understand controlling my symptoms is possible; I embrace them but sideline them and learn ways of dealing with them, so that they no longer dominate my life.
• I dare to hope for a fulfilling life.
• I am able to take risks and learn from my actions.
• I can develop effective strategies to overcome my symptoms and disorganized tendencies.
• I can love and be loved by others regardless of my diagnosis or social shortcomings.
• I ought to participate because I have ideas and can offer inputs that are of value. Others should encourage this to develop confidence and bolster self esteem.
• I experience a usual range of stress, and need to plan for ways to overcome difficulties and document my progress with challenges.
• I can live independently and manage my life needs—with support from time to time if necessary.
• I am employable and able to aim at, earning and supporting myself.
• I am able to overcome the traumas and damage to my life and contribute to my community.
• I can hope and dream for the same ideals and opportunities, as others are free to do.
How do we work together to improve physical health in people with schizophrenia?
Dr Helen L Millar, Consultant Psychiatrist Carseview Centre Scotland, United Kingdom & Professor Mohammed Abou-Saleh, St George’s, University of London United Kingdom
Lifestyle management for prevention of physical health problems.
Simple tips regarding changes in lifestyle can have a dramatic effect on long terms outcomes and life expectancy.
• Cut down on fatty foods
• Increase fish intake
• Increase fruit and vegetables – five portions /day
• Decrease processed food,
• Minimise sugar/sugary drinks
Tip: Be more aware of healthy foods, learn to cook, go healthy food shopping.
• 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 days per week- a brisk walk for 30 minutes, 5 days/week.
• Change lifestyle to incorporate exercise - walking, using stairs, cycling
• Agree goals and provide written evidence about the benefits
Tip: It is not essential to join a gym but changing lifelong bad habits can make a dramatic difference - be more physically active!
• Offer advice on weight management and how to achieve a healthy weight and maintain it
Tip: set realistic targets for weight reduction and then maintain weight
• Advise men 3-4 units per day limit (no more than 21 units per week)
• Women 1- 2 units per day (no more than 14 units per week)
Tip: Avoid binge drinking - stick to the recommended units!
• Advise all people to stop smoking
• Offer support and advice: include pharmacotherapy and smoking cessation
Tip: the best advice - stop!
• Sexual health education to reduce high risk practices leading to sexually transmitted diseases.
Tip: use safe practices at all times
IFA’s Contribution to ‘Living with Schizophrenia’– Mi Networks
Do you have a question about mental illness?
Are you looking for support in your local community but don’t know where to find it?
Let our experienced mental health workers provide you with up-to-date and relevant information about mental health concerns AND connect you with a wide range of local services and supports.
If someone you know or care about is living with a mental illness support is available-
Phone 1800 985 944 Web: www.minetworks.org.au
MIFA Information about the Lives of People Living With Schizophrenia
Excerpts from the Eli Lilly & Schizophrenia Fellowship of Australia publication ‘Turning Points’
The names of individuals have been changed in these transcripts
“Despite visits to different doctors, it took several years for Pam to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.”
“He used to be able to drink an entire case of beer in a day if he wanted to and would drink a bottle of beer like water. He is now much more controlled and will often sit out the back of our house with my boyfriend and they will have a beer together. He seems to like talking to guys more than girls because he will also spend a lot of time with my dad and speak to him about most things. He doesn’t speak to mum much anymore.”
“Jim also does some voluntary work in the community and is a member of Men’s Sheds, a not-for-profit organisation that helps deal with mental health issues by connecting men with their communities. He has also recently started looking for some paid work.”
“It got to the point where I knew intervention was necessary. A police officer and psychiatrist came to the house and forced Tim into rehabilitation, where he would spend the next four years. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt and questioned my decision, but deep down I knew it was the right thing for Tim.”
“Since receiving effective rehabilitation Tim can now live on his own. While he still struggles to keep the place clean, he does have more insight into his illness and when he starts not to feel well, he knows he needs to get out of the house.”
“He is such a lovely man who touches the lives of people who take the time to get to know him. His illness is just one part of him. While it has presented a lot of challenges for my partner and me, it has not diminished our relationship with Rob.”
“I think the biggest lesson I have taken from my experience is while just being a carer for a child with a mental illness seems simple enough, it can be the biggest challenge a person can face. The sense of loss is one of the hardest things to bear but I will never stop fighting for my beautiful son.”
The Physical Health of People with Mental Illness
People affected by serious mental illness face critical challenges to achieving and maintaining the same physical health as other people in the community. We know the most about people affected by schizophrenia.
31% of people with schizophrenia and coronary heart disease (CHD) are diagnosed under the age of 55, compared with 18% of others with CHD.
- After five years, and adjusting for age, 22% of people with CHD who have schizophrenia have died, compared with 8% of people with no serious mental health problems.
41% of people with schizophrenia and diabetes are diagnosed under the age of 55, compared with 30% of others with diabetes.
- After five years, 19% of people with diabetes who have schizophrenia have died, compared with 9% of people with no serious mental health problems.
21% of people with schizophrenia who have a stroke are under 55, compared with 11% of others who have a stroke.
- After five years, 28% of people who have had a stroke and who also have schizophrenia have died, compared with 12% of people with no serious mental health problems.
23% of people with schizophrenia and respiratory disease are diagnosed before the age of 55, compared with 17% of others with respiratory disease.
- After five years, 28% of people with respiratory disease or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder who also have schizophrenia have died, compared with 15% of people with no serious mental health problems.
TOBACCO USE AND PEOPLE AFFECTED BY MENTAL ILLNESS
Did you know that 40% of all the remaining smokers in Australia are people with a mental illness?
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND PEOPLE AFFECTED BY MENTAL ILLNESS
Physical Activity provides benefits on many levels, including improved energy levels, better quality sleep and improved physical health.
Some other resources to support people in increasing their physical activity
DIABETES REMAINS AN IMPORTANT HEALTH ISSUE FOR PEOPLE AFFECTED BY MENTAL ILLNESS
MIFA has developed a paper outlining the issues for people with mental illness and MENTAL ILLNESS AND DIABETES
Diabetes Australia has great information about UNDERSTANDING DIABETES
SANE Australia has a Fact Sheet about living with DIABETES AND MENTAL ILLNESS
REMEMBER YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH WHEN YOU SEE THE GP OR PSYCHIATRIST
Most people get a general health check when they first see their GP or psychiatrist.
If you do not get offered a regular health check after that, then remind your GP or psychiatrist that it is time to review your physical health.
It’s also important to have a check-up when you start a new medication.
If you think you might need a reminder about what to ask your GP or psychiatrist at a general health check, see THIS LIST from SANE Australia
People affected by serious mental illness have some of the poorest oral health in Australia. MIFA has summarised some of its concerns HERE
A review by the University of Queensland in 2011 found that people affected by serious mental illness were 3.4 times more likely to have lost all their teeth than opther people in the community.
They were also 6.2 times more likely to have decayed, filled or missing teeth.
Regular dental examination is vitally important for people affected by mental illness, and some people will be eligible for dental care via the Commonwealth’s Dental Care for People with Chronic and Complex Conditions MEDICARE SCHEME which people can access via their GP.
Media and Publications
Media and Publications
Working with consumers & carers to identify research priorities in psychosis
12 June 2014
By Susan Golley, Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia
Discussions about a common national mental health research agenda in Australia have been an important topic for key mental health scientists and as part of this discussion the Psychosis Australia Trust completed a study to investigate research priorities in psychosis from the perspective of people directly affected by mental illness.
A 'Whole of Community' response to mental health
12 June 2014
By Mary-Anne Quilter, Mental Illness Fellowship Queensland
It is often said it takes a village to raise a child. This sentiment that a community collectively provides the supports individuals need to live a meaningful and healthy life exists too for those living with mental illness. Knowing where to start, however, can be a sizeable stumbling block.
The national perspective on mental illness
The Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia (MIFA) is one of the country’s largest national not-for-profit community organisation for people affected by mental illness and psychiatric disability.
MIFA has member organisations delivering services in every state and territory. MIFA supports people affected by a range of illnesses including schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorders, including families and friends
MIFA Member organisations are located across Australia and at each location, member organisations are available to the media, or can assist in locatiing people affected by mental illness and those who care about them for commentt in a manner that is respectful to each individual.