In 2019, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Community Collaboration Committee (CCC) identified loneliness as a neglected factor in the understanding and care of mental illness and resolved to raise awareness about how addressing loneliness can make a difference to consumers and carers.
The CCC collaborated with Lived Experience Australia (LEA) to undertake a survey on loneliness with 322 mental health consumers and carers. The research was designed, led, and analysed by people with lived experience.
Respondents described how loneliness directly impacted their physical health, particularly self-care, exercise, nutrition, hygiene, etc. Many described the interconnection between mental and physical health impacts as a ‘vicious cycle’ where depression and anxiety, self-worth, and self-care were negatively impacted. Several indicated that disconnection led to poor mental health, and disconnected people may be less likely to care for their physical health.
A report from this research was released earlier this year, and has led to articles being published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, the report being distributed amongst NSW and QLD Mental Health Commissions and Mental Health workers, and Suicide Prevention Australia releasing information and resources to address loneliness and provide connections with support services. On Minister Emma McBride MPs recommendation, the report also went to the National Health and Medical Research Council to use in relation to evidence around social determinants of health.
LEA is immensely proud of this work, and grateful to RANZCP for the opportunity to collaborate. We could not have made this impact without the responses from those who completed our survey, and shared their stories with us.
Equally Well Achievement Award for Outstanding Partnership and Collaboration
The collaboration between LEA and RANZCP has now been recognised by Equally Well Australia at their Symposium, with an achievement award presented yesterday. LEA's Professor Sharon Lawn accepted the award.
We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of the other category winners for their achievements and recognition in bringing mental and physical health together.
You can find out more about Equally Well and the Symposium at this link: https://www.equallywell.org.au/equally-well-symposium-2023/