Brenda Happell

Nursing, Consumer & Carer Experience Ambassador

Brenda Happell

Q: What are your goals for Equally Well? What inspires you about Equally Well?

A: Equally Well provides a clear and unequivocal focus on physical health for people diagnosed with mental illness. I am inspired by its profile and visibility. Equally Well brings together all people with an interest in physical health and mental health including consumers, carers, clinicians, academics, managers and policy makers to pursue their mutual interests. As such it focuses on common purpose and unites people around this goal. My goals for Equally Well are to continue and strengthen collaborations and maintain the strong emphasis on the current deficits in providing physical health care within mental health services, and to continually strive for improvement.

Q: How do you see Equally Well benefiting carers/consumers/practitioners?

A: The Consensus Statement provides a really useful aspirational guide and presents a really strong and clear focal point for action on physical health. Individuals and organisations can use this document to argue for quality physical health care. The broader organisation support strengthens this further. The web page is an important source of resources for consumers, carers and clinicians. I have found these very helpful. The symposium held earlier this year was a fantastic opportunity to network and hear from a broad range of speakers with different backgrounds and diverse perspectives of physical health and strategies to address and overcome health inequities. I believe in strength in numbers and diversity. By combining our expertise and experience around a common goal, we substantially increase our strength and influence in many circles. This is of benefit to all major stakeholders with an interest in this area.

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: From my experience the barriers to providing physical health care within mental health services are major. The health system is very focused on diagnosis on entry to the system and despite rhetoric, does not provide holistic care. Increasingly, I believe the health care system requires a major overhaul before significant improvements in physical health care will become evident within the system. Perhaps this could be a strategic focus for Equally Well into the future.

Q: What have you personally learnt and has this knowledge impacted your life and/or the lives of those around you?

A: I have learnt a great deal and hope to continue to. I always learn and become inspired by the amazing strategies and techniques people develop, often with very limited resources.

Q: As an Equally Well Ambassador, you are an advocate for improving the physical health of people living with a mental illness, since the symposium, have there been any new developments or research in your field?

A: As an advocate for improving physical health for people diagnosed with a mental illness, I have continued to advance my research project. Recruitment has now closed for the study and the intervention is in full swing.

Q: What do you see is your role for Equally Well as one of our ambassadors?

A: At this stage I see my role as promoting physical health in general and equally, adding it in any way possible. For example, when presenting or publishing about my physical health research I will profile and highlight Equally Well, I have now included the logo in my signature file. I will continue to provide information about Equally Well to colleagues. I welcome the opportunity to contribute to future events and publications.