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Physical health and mental illness: listening to the voice of carers
journal contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Brenda Happell, K Wilson, Chris Platania-PhungChris Platania-Phung, Robert StantonRobert Stanton
Background: Shortened life expectancy of people with mental illness is now widely known andthe focus of research and policy activity. To date, research has primarily reflected perspectives of health professionals with limited attention to the views and opinions of those most closely affected. The voice of carers is particularly minimal, despite policy stipulating carer participationis required for mental health services. Aim: To present views and opinions of carers regarding physical health of the people theycare for. Methods: Qualitative exploratory. Two focus groups and one individual interview wereconducted with 13 people identifying as carers of a person with mental illness. Research was conducted in the Australian Capital Territory. Data analysis was based on the thematic framework of Braun and Clarke. Results: Two main themes were interaction between physical and mental health; and, carers’ own physical and mental health. Participants described the impact of mental illness and its treatments on physical health, including their own. Conclusions: Carers are acknowledged as crucial for the delivery of high quality mental healthservices. Therefore they have an important role to play in addressing the poor physical health of people with mental illness. Hearing their views and opinions is essential.