The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has made a submission to the Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, calling for investment in expanding multidisciplinary mental health teams which offer diverse skills and expertise, and for the recognition of the critical role physiotherapists play in mental health.

APA Mental Health Group National Chair Ellen Lake, APAM, knows these types of multidisciplinary models deliver higher quality healthcare and better outcome measures.

“Despite myriad recommendations for reorganising and transforming the way we support and manage mental healthcare, the ‘system’ remains grounded in hospital-related services, medication and the rigid bio-medical framework,” she says.

“Those with mental health issues should have access to appropriate and professional mental and physical health care based on their individual circumstances and needs. This includes access to physiotherapy services that support people across the whole continuum of care, specifically in managing and treating pain, improving mobility and function, providing education and support and enhancing quality of life.”  

The Australian Medical Association notes in their 2018 Mental Health position statement that physical and mental health care should not be viewed as separate or mutually exclusive.

“Chronic pain, in itself, places significant burdens on individuals and the health care system. Untreated, or inappropriately treated, pain is a factor in mental health.”

“When patients reach out for help - every door is the wrong door for them. Governments and providers must work towards a transformed, ‘every door is the right door’ mental healthcare system.”

“Put simply, by enhancing physical health through physiotherapy, we also promote mental wellbeing.”

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) accredited physiotherapists know that exercise is incredibly valuable in the treatment of some forms of depression, PTSD and other disorders. Improving mobility and addressing health issues that are barriers to exercise is essential as part of assessment and appropriate treatments for people experiencing mental illness.


Ellen Lake is available for further comment.   


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