Focusing on clients of public mental health services, the study found that, despite being in treatment, four out of ten of the 64,000 adult Australians with a psychotic illness continue to experience delusions and a third currently experience hallucinations.
Almost half of all Australians with a psychotic illness are obese, two thirds smoke and over half have problems with alcohol and drug abuse and dependence.
Particularly troubling is the finding that nearly a quarter of people with psychotic illness reported being lonely and one in eight had no friends at all.
Around half of people with psychotic illness have attempted suicide at some time. This is over ten times the rate in the general population.
The study reveals changes in the delivery of mental health services since the previous survey in 1997- 98, principally related to the ongoing, if uneven, shift from hospital to community-based care.
There have also been modest but real improvements including a halving of the number of people homeless in the last 12 months (from 13% in 1998 to 5%) and a 60% increase in the number of people using rehabilitation programs.
There remains vast scope for improvement in physical and mental health services if we are to help people with these serious illnesses find somewhere decent to live, work to do and friends to share their lives with.
The study was commissioned by the Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing.
Download:: People Living with Psychotic Illness – A SANE Response