Vicki Langan

With background in Sports Science and working in ADO, forensic, youth and community services, homelessness and mental health services for over 25 years, Vicki clearly saw the link between mental ill health and the impact on the physical health of individuals living with a mental illness. Moving into Health Promotion, supporting the development of the Peer Work Force and now in her current position as the Health and Wellbeing Manager for Neami National NSW, Vicki has contributed to the development and implementation of several Physical Health programs, health promotions initiatives and research projects nationally. Vicki is dedicated to supporting individuals living with mental illness improve their physical health through collaboration and innovation and as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor support attitude change throughout the wider community.


Abstract 1

Title: I’m Never too old to be Asked – Physical and Mental Wellbeing

Author(s): Vicki Langan, Whitney Lee

Physical health and social isolation have been identified by older people as two important areas of wellbeing that require intervention to improve their quality of life.  There can be confusion around who is responsible for assessing and monitoring the physical health of older people accessing mental health services.

Work conducted by Neami’s NSW Health and Wellbeing Team in addressing the physical health of individuals living with a mental illness gained interest across the mental health sector, resulting in a request by NSW Health, Older Person Mental Health Services for Neami to partner with them and support implementation of the Physical Health Care Practice Improvement Project.

The Neami Physical Health Prompt was utilised as a resource but required adaptation to cater to people over the age of 60 years. In line with Neami’s consumer participation policy and guidelines, a co-design process was used to develop an Older Persons Physical Health Prompt (OPPHP). This changed not only the visual functionality but added another 9 essential questions.  To support the implementation of the pilot OPPHP, strategies included Neami developing an instructional video to inform staff within 5 participating LHD Older Persons Services on the appropriate use of the resource.

At an individual, community and clinical level, the OPPHP supports the person in a variety of ways. Completion of the Health Prompt promotes and empowers them to have regular relevant conversations around their physical health with whomever they choose in a supportive environment, promoting reflection and ensures physical health remains on the agenda.

Responses emphasise the importance of regular physical health checks for older people, while an inpatient in a Mental Health unit, and/or residential care and the need to build the capacity of age care staff in consumer centred holistic approaches in physical health of older people living with a mental illness.

Abstract 2

Title:  Partnership in Practice: Smile for Health

Author(s): Vicki Langan, Whitney Lee

Oral health for people living with a serious mental illness is a neglected issue.  A qualitative study conducted with Neami National service users found that participants generally valued oral health and recognized that attending regular dental appointments played a key role in improving their overall wellbeing, however felt that their mental illness overwhelmed their ability to maintain good oral health and access dental services.

Consumer insight and staff feedback highlighted the many complex challenges faced by those individuals trying to access oral health services. Challenges include but are not limited to; lack of priority oral health treatment pathways, long public dental waitlists, cost, mental health symptoms, lack of mental health literacy in dental professionals and past negative experiences in dental practice provision.

Neami has an existing Health Promotion policy that aims to improve the overall physical health and wellbeing of service users.  This can only be possible through the development of a multi-disciplinary approach to service provision and collaborating with relevant stakeholders.

Neami embarked on a partnership with the Australian Dental Health Foundation via a mental health promotion network, that has extended and provided best practise in oral health provision over an eight-year journey.  This partnership has led to addressing several of the above challenges, leading to consumers of Neami having improved access to free dental services.

Through the course of the partnership, the ADHF accepted over 150 referrals from Neami, with over 60 individuals receiving fully completed treatment including 15 sets of free dentures.  Of those that did not attend, many were supported to access alternative oral health services such as private dentists or through the public oral health system.  Testimonials show the significant impact that both improved oral health and respectful treatment of patients by dentists have on the quality of life, self-esteem, and mental health of consumers.

Abstract 3

Title:  Kick the Habit with Consumer-Centred Tobacco Management

Author(s): Vicki Langan, Whitney Lee

The aim of the report was to summaries the evidence gathered via evaluations while implementing the ‘Kick the Habit’ Program. Neami utilised a student of public health from the university of Sydney to conduct the evaluation.

The Tobacco Management project, “Kick the Habit”, is a multi-component program that was developed by Neami’s Health Promotion team in response to the high rates of smoking in people living with a mental illness. The program is a combination of one-to-one coaching support alongside the use of NRT products, as evidence found that the golden standard for tobacco management is pharmacotherapy in combination with behavioural support. One to one coaching support is offered in order to develop a personalised and tailored smoking management plan for each consumer based on individualised goals for reducing or quitting smoking. Support is given to initiate conversation and build relationships between consumers and their pharmacists, to utilize NRT products so that nicotine withdrawal symptoms are reduced, and mental health symptoms are monitored.

Though smoking rates have declined in the general population due to successful public health strategies, smoking rates remain unchanged in people living with a SMI.  These strategies have in fact further disadvantaged vulnerable populations, such as creating further socialisation and taxes have increased financial vulnerability.

Evidence demonstrates that general smoking cessation programs are ineffective in people living with SMI, hence the urgency to co-design a tobacco management program tailored to this population.  Notable outcomes from the report found that 100% of consumers had attempted to stop smoking previously, with 86% of consumers reporting that they reduced tobacco use as a result of participating.

80% of participants suggested that the program should go on for a much longer time. This recommendation and others have been implemented in order to ensure that consumers receive appropriate and effective services.

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