Back to top

Physical health

Improving the physical health of people with a lived experience of mental illness or alcohol or other drug use is addressed in the Shifting minds Strategic Plan.

People who live with mental illness and problematic alcohol or other drug use are more likely to experience poor physical health. This can not only can hinder their recovery, but can also have financial and social impacts.

Physical health project

The Queensland Mental Health Commission's Physical Health  Project has identified reform opportunities to improve the physical health of people with a lived experience of mental illness and/or problematic alcohol and other drug use.

The project is a response to evidence that Queenslanders with a lived experience have a poorer health status, lower quality of life and reduced life expectancy as a result of preventable illness and chronic disease.


Serious physical health symptoms and chronic disease impede recovery and have significant implications for individuals and for the Queensland Health system.

The project was designed to find avenues of systemic improvement that align with the Shifting minds Strategic Plan's Better Lives focus area, through addressing physical health disparities as barriers to social and economic participation.

The Commission engaged Aspex Consulting in October 2018 to analyse the system and consult with key service stakeholders to identify reform opportunities to improve the physical health of people with a lived experience of mental illness or problematic alcohol and other drug use.

Such reform opportunities support the Commission’s commitment to the Equally Well National Consensus Statement for improving the physical health and wellbeing of people living with a mental illness in Australia.

Reform opportunities

The Physical Health Project, completed in October 2019, has identified 12 overarching themes in four categories of reform.  The reform opportunities align with holistic, person-centred approaches to physical and mental health and wellbeing and the principles underpinning Equally Well:

  • individual - protective factors, navigation
  • health service delivery - accountability, models of care, collaborative care
  • system-wide - population health, place-based, partnerships
  • resource and enablers - funding and commissioning, workforce, digital health, research and evaluation.

About the reports

Two key reports from the Physical Health Project are:

The Case for Change report, which summarises key evidence from environmental analysis and research on the burden of disease relating to the prevalence of mental illness and problematic alcohol and other drug (AOD) use; policy positions across Australia; key themes from initiatives that contribute to improving physical health; and barriers and enablers influencing physical health outcomes.

The Strategic Position Paper outlines the project’s key findings, including details of the reform opportunities in the four reform categories (individual, health and service delivery, system-wide, resource and enablers).

Engaging people with a lived experience regarding their physical health

In April 2021, the Commission commenced engagement of people with lived experience across Queensland regarding their views and perspectives on the reform opportunities identified in the Physical Health Project’s Strategic Position Paper. This included which opportunities should be prioritised by the Queensland Government, and to identify any missing opportunities.

The engagement program consulted with people with lived experience, carers and support people from diverse backgrounds. The program engaged with people with a lived experience of mental illness and also those with problematic alcohol and other drug use.

Consultation indicated the priorities for investment (in order of priority) are:

  • Areas with the highest burden of disease and socio-economic disadvantage for co-designed, inter-sectoral strategies focused on health promotion and integrated service models.
  • Capability building to strengthen the skills and competencies of the workforce.
  • Stronger partnerships between health and community organisations to strengthen social connectedness.
  • Performance monitoring, targeted research and evaluation to strengthen the evidence base.
  • Critical information technology enablers that enable information sharing between health practitioners.
  • Prevention strategies for oral health across clinical mental health and specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services and public-funded oral health services.

The consultation also highlighted the importance of the reform opportunities for individuals and health services as these areas were more relevant and meaningful to participants.

Many participants were not aware of the range of different stakeholders involved in, or who influence system reform, or mental health and wellbeing outcomes. For example, it was unclear how stakeholders who were not service providers impacted on system reform, and how or why they would work together to improve mental health and wellbeing outcomes.

For more information download the Lived experience perspective on physical health care - Summary Report.

Where to from here

The Commission has shared the Summary Report among key stakeholders across the government and non-government sector. This will enable stakeholders to identify and action their own reform agendas to improve the physical health outcomes of people with a lived experience of mental illness and/or problematic alcohol and other drug use.

In the meantime, the Commission will continue to work with our partners to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all Queenslanders, in particular those with a lived experience.