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Mental Health Problems Significantly Higher In People With Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Cancer Respiratory Illness

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Professor Max Abbott
Professor Max Abbott

Better integration of mental health and primary care services is needed to help treat and reduce mental health problems and improve health outcomes generally, says Professor Max Abbott, Dean of AUT University's Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences. "This week is Mental Health Awareness week, culminating on World Mental Health Day on Sunday, 10 October. Mental health is a critical issue in all areas of life. There is a greater need to appreciate the links between mental health and chronic illness including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and respiratory illness."

"While there has been some recent improvement in this country in adding mental health to primary care services, silos remain with physical and mental health in largely separate service departments. A huge challenge remains in providing integrated care," he says.

As President of the World Federation for Mental Health, Professor Abbott helped found World Mental Health Day in 1992. He chaired the first World Mental Health Day jointly with the Director General of the World Health Organisation. It now celebrated globally on an annual basis and has increased public awareness and helped place mental health higher on government policy agendas.

The World Health Organisation has recently stated that chronic illness is responsible for 60% of the world's deaths and constitutes the major public health challenge of the century.

Professor Abbott says that during the past decade research has greatly extended understanding of relationships between chronic physical illness and mental health disorders.

"People with chronic illness have much higher rates of depression and anxiety than the general population. Untreated, mental health problems lead to worse outcomes for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancers and other chronic diseases. Greater investment in the provision of comprehensive, integrated primary care services is fundamental to enhance well-being and resilience and to prevent, treat and alleviate illness and disability."

"Mental health is a priority for all people. Body and mind interact directly in health and disease. The bottom line is that there is no health without mental health and that physical and mental health need to be considered together."

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