Professor Katherine Samaras in Tokyo
20 November 2014
The International Early Psychosis Association formally launched Healthy Active Lives (HeAL) yesterday in Tokyo. The HeAL Declaration, launched a year ago in Belgium, highlights the physical health challenges faced by young people with psychosis, and offers practical solutions and support.
The HeAL declaration represents the culmination of years of collaborative work between Australian clinical researchers and psychiatrists, as well as further development of that work by an international working group including clinicians, service users, family members and researchers from many countries.
The process started in 2010 when Professor Katherine Samaras, Clinical Researcher at Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research and endocrinologist at St Vincent’s Hospital, along with psychiatrist Dr Jackie Curtis and her colleagues from the Bondi Early Psychosis Program, Prince of Wales Hospital, developed a physical health protection algorithm, which they recommended should run in tandem with mental health treatment.
The ‘positive cardiometabolic health algorithm’ included regular and specified measurement of tangibles – weight, waistline and blood chemistry – as well as counselling for healthy lifestyle and diet. The algorithm was adopted by NSW Health in June 2011.
Dr Curtis and Professor Samaras established an international Working Party on Physical Health in Youth with Psychosis (iphYs) in Sydney in November 2011, in collaboration with Dr David Shiers, a UK-based GP and early psychosis advocate. The need for formal benchmarked standards for physical health was clear and so the Working Party worked to elaborate the HeAL Declaration.
The Tokyo HeAL launch was accompanied by an editorial in Lancet Psychiatry.
“This international consensus declaration is a call to arms for health professionals and service providers to pay far greater attention to the cardiovascular and metabolic health of people experiencing psychosis for the first time, right from the onset of treatment,” said Lancet.
Three Garvan media releases trace the genesis and development of HeAL over time: