Charles Sturt University (CSU) experts from the Central West have attended an international meeting to discuss global mental health concerns and launch their national project Equally Well.
The meeting, which was held in the United States, established an international learning and support network among the countries involved to address the global issue of improving the health of people living with mental illness. It comes after delegates from 12 countries agreed to international collaboration in September.
Delegates, including from New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, France, Sweden and the Netherlands, met with the CSU experts on Thursday to discuss the leading Australian project 'Equally Well' that supports the physical health of people with mental illnesses.
National project director of Equally Well and Associate Professor at CSU Russell Roberts said the university team organised the meeting because the health of people living with mental illness around the globe was worsening.
"The statistics on the physical health of people with mental illnesses are shocking; people living with mental illness die, on average, 20 years prematurely. For every death by suicide of someone with mental illness, 10 die early due to heart disease, lung disease, cancer and diabetes," Professor Roberts said.
He said the international support network allowed valuable opportunities for CSU to share its research and learning with other countries.
Australian National Mental Health Commission chair Lucinda Brogden, who attended the meeting in Washington, said she was proud Australian researchers had initiated and taken a lead role in the meeting.
"The formation of international collaboration is very timely and aligns with the priorities of the Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit I attended in London last year," Ms Brogden said.
"It was great to see the level of enthusiasm and support from the other countries represented at the Washington meeting."
In Australia, the Equally Well project has secured formal commitment from more than 90 national organisations and peak bodies, including the federal and state governments and 14 professional colleges.
Equally Well is funded by the Australian government's National Mental Health Commission and investigates the impact of national leadership and social marketing campaigns on the utilisation of online resources to support the physical health of people with mental illnesses.
If you or someone you know needs help, contactLifeline Australia on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.