Over the past year there has been significant progress in the Equally Well space. Externally there has been changes to government policies that will support the work we are all doing around Equally Well. Alongside these policy changes, there is a growing body of initiatives happening around the country that are addressing Equally Well issues. And we can’t forget that our work has now been acknowledged through two national awards, a truly fabulous achievement and an indication of the significant action being taken within the collaborative sphere of influence. 

Together, we are and we can, make a difference.

Equally Well’s year was kick started with the results of the ‘Take our Pulse survey', where people shared the example of Equally Well initiatives they had underway. The NZ Diabetes strategy was published and for the first time in national policy, people who experience mental health problems and addiction were highlighted as a priority group for diabetes screening, with a call by 20/20 for everyone in contact with mental health and addiction services to receive routine diabetes screening.

The Ministry of Health has also been reviewing the primary care guidelines on cardiovascular risk assessment and have included the evidence on the higher relative risk of cardiovascular disease in their evidence update. They are also in the midst of looking at how this evidence can be incorporated into the updated guidelines so that more people who experience mental health problems and addiction are prioritised for cardiovascular disease risk assessment and management.

There is also much regional activity that has been stimulated and enhanced. For example, Kay Fletcher chairs a very active Canterbury Equally Well committee and Equally Well is core to the mental health work stream of CDHB. In the new year, Kay is looking to replicate much of the Equally Well related activity happening in specialist mental health and addiction services, across in primary and community services. This is particularly relevant given the new Equally Well extended consultations now on offer. In Canterbury the energy is very proactive, with a focus on improved monitoring, informed consent, good information on medications and better use of green prescriptions, rather than ‘bottom of the cliff’ activity.

As Kay reflected on what’s been achieved she also highlighted that we need to ensure that at the same time as we improve monitoring and assessment, we also improve the delivery of physical health support and programs. 

This year the work of the collaborative has been publically acknowledged through winning the Australasian Mental Health Services (TheMHS) award for primary care and physical health and the International Foundation for Integrated Care’s (IFIC) award for best paper at their World Congress held in Wellington. 

We also now have 270 people engaging in robust discussions about Equally Well issues through our online Loomio discussion forum. As well as generating great discussions this forum has also allowed us to collectively get on the same page around issues and reach decisions around the best way forward.