News

Community sector supporting preventative care for people with mental health conditions

Community psychosocial organisations play a valuable role preventing physical poor health in people with mental health conditions, a recent study by the University of Newcastle described in a peer reviewed paper co-authored by Mental Health Coordinating Council.

People living with mental health conditions have a reduced life expectancy of approximately 10 years compared to the general population. This is largely due to chronic physical diseases and higher rates of smoking, poor nutrition, harmful alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and poor sleep behaviours.

The study titled Preventive care practices to address health behaviours among people living with mental health conditions: A survey of CMOs found 80% of CMOs provided preventative care to address health behaviour. The most common issues addressed were physical inactivity and smoking.

Key findings

  • Over 80% of CMOs are providing preventive care for at least one health behaviour.
  • Between 16% and 57% of CMOs are providing preventive care for all health behaviours.
  • Physical activity was most frequently addressed for 50% or more CMO consumers.
  • Tobacco smoking was least frequently addressed for 50% or more CMO consumers.
  • Staff training and guidelines were associated with preventive care provision.

Prior to the study there was limited research describing the type and prevalence of preventive care being routinely provided by CMOs.

The paper published in the Preventative Medicine Reports Journal, produced by Professor Jenny Bowman and colleagues from the University of Newcastle and MHCC, identified a major gap in the published evidence on understanding the type and prevalence of preventive care being provided by CMOs to consumers. This included care that addresses multiple health behaviours such as smoking, nutrition, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and sleep behaviours.

To date, no other study has investigated the factors associated with the provision of preventive care for multiple health behaviours by CMOs that support people with mental health conditions.

The research study describes the provision of preventive care to identify and address health behaviours among CMO consumers. It identified the presence of certain organisational features known to facilitate implementation of evidence-based practices in CMOs and explore their possible association with the provision of preventive care.

Further research with CMO staff and consumers is needed to gain a deeper understanding of factors that may affect CMOs capacity to routinely provide preventive care.

MHCC thanks all participating members in the study.

We encourage you to read the short paper outlining the findings of the cross-sectional online survey undertaken in the three months to February 2019.

Read about the study in the Preventative Medicine Reports Journal