As hashtags go, it's a pretty long one. It's also a very important one for the physical health of those who experience mental ill-health.
Today, Lived Experience Australia, in collaboration with Equally Well Australia, releases this report following a review of physical and mental health care in Australia.
We're not going to kid you - there are some sad and scary statistics in this report about the rates of physical health checking, and the affordability and access for people with mental health support needs.
So even though we've learnt that things are not great, we've also recognised that there's a way forward.
And that's what this hashtag (and our campaign focus) is all about.
The key is whole health care
Regardless of the reason someone may be seeing a health professional, they should always be considered as a 'whole' being. We can't separate one aspect of our health away from another. If we're feeling unwell physically, that can place additional strain on our mental health. If we're experiencing mental ill-health, then there's a good chance our physical health may not be getting the attention it needs.
The great thing about #AskAdviseAssistAdvocate is that it can be used in all health settings, and is a good guideline for looking after our whole health. Whether in a General Practice setting or a Hospital, a Psychiatrists office, or even on a personal basis with someone we care concerned about.
Here's how it goes for physical health, for those living with mental ill-health:
Step 1: Ask
Enquire about whether people may have had appropriate health screenings (such as breast cancer or bowel cancer) or whether they would like to consider giving up smoking (if they're a smoker). Consider asking general wellbeing questions about physical health that might give clues to where someone may need support.
Step 2: Advise
Giving advice can sometimes be tricky, so ask the person's permission to provide guidance on options that might be suitable or available to them. For example, if they have considered giving up smoking, share some of the reasons why you agree it might be a good idea, and how it might benefit them.
Step 3: Assist
Offer to provide information, referrals, treatment plans, support, and encouragement. If we continue the smoker example, if someone has been a smoker for a long time, it's going to take some time and effort for them to stop. Look at ways to maximise the support available to the person, suggesting other professionals that may be able to assist, provide links to resources that are available, and ensure support and accountability is there for them.
Step 4: Advocate
Sometimes people need a little bit extra to help them achieve what they want to improve their health. It may be important to help the person to find their voice to be able to say what they need. Sometimes it may be so hard for them that you may need to speak on their behalf. With advocates on their side, the person's support network grows, and their needs can be addressed.
30 Lives Per Day
The ABS tells us that 30 people with mental ill-health die of physical conditions (most of which are PREVENTABLE) each day, and that - on average - people with mental ill-health die between 14 and 23 years younger than those who don't have mental ill-health.
So, THIS is our goal.
We want to reduce this number - by ensuring that the physical health needs of those experiencing mental ill-health are considered and acted upon.
You can read more about our research here and join in our campaigns on social media