What’s needed


A systematic approach to mental health services that:


  • Delivers appropriate levels of funding to support the best individual care, when and where it is needed.
  • Addresses the health gaps in Australia, providing a fair go for those who need it the most.
  • Empowers consumers within a responsive and strong health system that puts individuals at the centre of care.




Mental illness is a large burden on our communities:

  • In any given year, 20% of the Australian population experience mental illness.
  • Physical inactivity is the cause of approximately 9% of premature mortality worldwide, with people experiencing a mental illness particularly susceptible.


People with mental illness also experience poorer physical health:

  • People with severe mental illness live between 10-32 years less than the general population. A major contributing factor to the lower life expectancy is poor physical health and higher rates of chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.


Current funding models do not support widespread access to lifestyle services, such as exercise, as an integrated component of routine care:

  • Exercise and diet are core lifestyle services in the prevention and management of physical health conditions in the general population.
  • Limited dedicated funding exists to support people to exercise when they are experiencing a mental illness.
  • Notably, for every case of depression that is averted through exercise, society saves AUD$10,062 per year. The direct savings to the consumer are approx. AUD$6,025 per year.


Cost of inaction

  • The economic impact of mental illness on Australian society is high.
  • The total cost to community is estimated to be approx. AUD$60 billion per year.
  • Inaction on mental illness costs Australian businesses AUD $10.9 billion per year.
  • Worldwide, almost 8 million people die early every year due to mental illness. However, a considerable number of these deaths are not due to mental illness but from physical health problems such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.




  • Increase access to lifestyle services, such as exercise and diet, as part of normal care for people living with mental illness.
  • Offer regular screening and ongoing monitoring of both physical and mental health for people experiencing mental illness.
  • Provide dedicated funding and improved referral pathways that support targeted access to exercise services as part of standard care.
  • Support consumer and carer engagement in mental health services to build a system that places the person at the centre of care and helps each individual better manage her or his own health.