RESEARCH UNDERWAY

Indicators of well-being for young people with mental illness (2010-2011)

This project, funded by the Schizophrenia Fellowship, will develop indicators of well-being for young people with mental illness. It is being undertaken in the context of the investigators’ wider program of research into indicators of well-being for children and young people with disabilities and extends previous and concurrent work by focusing specifically on young people with mental illness.

Project team

Dr Anne Honey
Prof Gwynnyth Llewellyn
Prof Eric Emerson
Ms Nicola Hancock
Prof Ian Hickie

Background

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) (United Nations, 2006) requires that young people with disabilities, including mental illness, enjoy similar life choices and opportunities to those enjoyed by their non-disabled peers. Australia’s National Mental Health Policy (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009) echoes this, stating that people with mental illness, “have a right to participate meaningfully in individual and community life without discrimination, stigma or exclusion” (p.12) and that they have “the same rights as other Australians to full social, political and economic participation in their communities” (p.19).

Research shows, however, that people with mental illness are not enjoying the same life choices and opportunities as other Australians. They are disadvantaged across a wide range of social indicators, such as employment, housing and social networks (Access Economics, 2002). The course and outcome of mental illness are strongly influenced by social factors to the extent that “the chronicity of these conditions can be considered more a psychosocial artefact rather than a “natural” outcome of the illness (Mezzina et al., 2006, p.41).

As a signatory to UNCRPD, Australia is obliged to monitor and report on the level and nature of disadvantage faced by Australians with disabilities. Reliable and valid indicators of well-being are central to evaluating the impact of social policies that seek to support the equalisation of opportunities for young people with mental illness and identify specific areas of risk.

Aim of project

The aim of this project is to develop indicators of well-being for young people with mental illness.

This will be achieved by:

  1. Reviewing the literature on well-being for young people with mental illness
  2. Identifying the perspectives of young people with mental illness on their well-being
  3. Comparing findings from the above to indicators of well-being derived from a rights-based framework to develop a suite of indicators of well-being that captures a human rights approach alongside consumer perspectives.

Anticipated outcomes

  1. Review and critical analysis comparing indicators of well-being for young people with disabilities derived from a human rights framework to: i) Indicators currently used to measure well-being for people with mental illness; and ii) the perspectives of young people with mental illness on their own well-being and what is needed to achieve well-being.
  2. Development of a suite of indicators appropriate for measuring the well-being of young people with mental illness ready for testing in the context of ongoing work on the development of indicators of well-being for children and young people with disabilities.

Related publications

Access Economics. (2002). Schizophrenia: Costs. An analysis of the burden of schizophrenia and related suicide in Australia. Melbourne: SANE Australia.

Commonwealth of Australia. (2009). National Mental Health Policy 2008. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Mezzina, R., Borg, M., Izabel Marin, Sells, D., Topor, A., & Davidson, L. (2006). From participation to citizenship: How to regain a role, a status, and a life in the process of recovery. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 9, 39-61.

United Nations. (2006). United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York: United Nations.

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