Policy brief: Improving the physical health of people experiencing mental health and/or addiction issues (Policy brief: May 2017)

College news
15 May 2017

On 11 May, College President Dr Tim Malloy had the opportunity to talk about issues facing GPs and their patients when he spoke at Labour’s Primary Care Summit at the Beehive.

Dr Malloy said he was pleased with Labour’s recognition of mental health as a serious health issue. GPs already provide care for people with mild to moderate mental illness and are envisioned to play and increasing role in caring for those living with stable severe mental illness. 

Mental health help for GPs and their patients

As part of The College's commitment to improving outcomes for these people, it has joined the Equally Well collaborative.

Research has shown that there are significant physical health inequities for people with mental illnesses - including a risk of dying younger. 

Significant physical health inequities exist for people living with mental illness or addiction, including a risk of dying younger. GPs can contribute positively to this issue by being aware of the inequitable health outcomes, taking on a model of wellbeing focused prescribing, actively avoiding diagnostic overshadowing, empowering patients, and working closely with other health providers.

To help GPs with this, the College has prepared a policy brief which outlines mitigating strategies and recommended actions for GPs.

Read Policy Brief: Equally Well: Improving the physical health of people experiencing mental health and/or addiction issues (Policy brief: May 2017)


Helen Lockett, one of Equally Well strategic leads says “It is really great to see the leadership and commitment being taken by the Royal New Zealand College of GPs to embrace the Equally Well principles and call to action.

This policy brief includes evidence-informed information about the extent of the health disparities, what’s contributing to them and most importantly resources and practical examples of actions that can be taken across primary care. 

We know that GPs play an essential role in supporting and improving the physical health of people who experience mental health conditions and/or addiction. GPs are at the front and centre of creating a new way of working collaboratively to address these issues.”