Psychotic Illness Study Paints Bleak Picture
23 November 2011 at 11:08 am
Mental health organisations are calling for more support and better-coordinated community mental health services, following the release of study of psychotic illness in Australia.
The People Living with Psychotic Illness 2010 study – the largest study of its kind in Australia – reveals that psychotic illness affects one in every 200 Australians
The study found that 90% of people affected by psychotic illness report a deterioration in their daily life – be it cooking, cleaning, managing their finances or working.
The study also reveals a growing ‘physical health’ gap – half of all Australians with a psychotic illness are obese, two thirds smoke and over half have problems with alcohol and drug abuse and dependence.
Focusing on clients of public mental health services, the study found that, despite being in treatment, four out of ten of the 64,000 adult Australians with a psychotic illness continue to experience delusions and a third currently experience hallucinations.
Barbara Hocking, Executive Director of mental health charity SANE Australia, says the report paints a bleak picture for many people with psychotic illness who, despite treatment, continue to experience symptoms and ongoing disability.
Hocking says there remains a vast scope of improvement in physical and mental health services if people with serious illnesses are to live decent, meaningful lives.
“They have much greater financial worries, homelessness, unemployment and loneliness, than the general population,’ said Hocking.
“Particularly troubling is the finding that nearly a quarter of people with psychotic illness reported being lonely and one in eight had no friends at all. Social contact is important for all of us.”
SANE Australia is calling for wider education across the community; greater access to psychosocial rehabilitation/recovery programs to continue education and find employment; a greater focus on physical health; more public housing and supported accommodation, and a simplifying of the system so people can connect with the support they need.
Some Positive Signs
The study reveals changes in the delivery of mental health services since the previous survey in 1997- 98, related to the ongoing shift from hospital to community-based care. The study says there have been modest but real improvements including a halving of the number of people homeless in the last 12 months (from 13% in 1998 to 5%) and a 60% increase in the number of people using rehabilitation programs.
Hocking says the report shows some positive signs compared to ten years ago, with more people experiencing periods of good recovery and hospital admissions for mental health reasons and involuntary admissions have both
decreased by one third.
Despite the hardship, three out of four people believed their circumstances would improve over the next year. As the authors of the study state, “in the face of disability, disadvantage, stigma and social isolation, people with psychotic disorder display resilience and tenacity”.
To view People Living with Psychotic Illness – A SANE Response visit www.sane.org