Substance Abuse Ambassador
Q: What are your goals for Equally Well? What inspires you about Equally Well?
A: Collective action for real change is what Equally Well is about. I’d like to see Equally Well make a demonstrable and long standing difference to health and quality of life. The collective approach is truly inspiring and together we can make real change happen.
Q: How do you see Equally Well benefiting carers/consumers/practitioners?
A: It gives a focus to overall health. I think everyone recognises the importance of mental and physical health and how they are influence by each other. We can’t have good mental health whilst physical health is poor and vice versa.
Q: What hurdles do you currently see Equally Well facing and will have to face in the future? Is there a particular area you believe needs more focus that Equally Well can develop on?
A: I think poverty and the poor living circumstances which many people living with mental illness have to endure are major issues. Homelessness and social isolation are fundamental issues that need to be addressed for health.
Q: What have you personally learnt and has this knowledge impacted your life and/or the lives of those around you?
A: Working in community mental health many years ago and then in inpatient settings later, I could see that smoking and alcohol and other drug use were big challenges. Whilst I was focusing on mental health treatment, I became more and more interested in helping people change their substance use within a healthy lifestyles context – we help people to make healthier choices. We use telephone, group or individual interventions to address a range of lifestyle behaviours, such as smoking, alcohol and other drug use, poor diet, and sedentary behaviour whilst increasing healthier activities.
Q: As an Equally Well Ambassador, you are an advocate for improving the physical health of those who suffer from a mental illness, since the symposium, have there been any new developments or research in your field?
A: We are examining linking people who smoke or use alcohol and other drugs or who have other addictive behaviours (too much junk food, too much gaming etc) with existing services in the community like Quitline and SMART Recovery.
Q: What do you see is your role for Equally Well as one of our ambassadors?
A: To assist in any way I can to get the message out there that people living with mental illness care about their health and are keen to live healthier lives. Research shows it can be done – we have to translate these findings into everyday services to help improve access to services