ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Equally Well (2019-2021)


National Mental Health Commission, $229,709


Associate Professor Russell Roberts, Dr Michael Mehmet, Dr Chris Mayles (RMIT) and Professor Jenny Bowman (University of Newcastle)

Research Theme

Rural and Regional Communities


The project aims to supports the physical health of people with mental illnesses by investigating the impact of national leadership and social marketing campaigns on the use of online resources that support the physical health of people with mental illnesses.

The National Consensus Statement, Equally well: Improving the physical health of people living with mental illness in Australia, was launched in July 2017. The statement was the result of broad consultation during 2015 and 2016, including a national consensus workshop of health and mental health stakeholders. Over 70 national organisations, including all state and territory governments and key organisations, have so far signed-up to ‘making the physical health of people living with mental illness a priority at all levels: national, state/ territory and regional.'

In 2019 ILWS researchers secured $118,854 from the National Mental Health Commission to build on their initial project Equally Well Implementation Committee (2017-2019)  and to continue with the two research projects associated with this initiative. The projects  are:

  • Collaborative models of leadership in national cross-sector health initiatives. This research is examining the factors that lead to success in leading a national health improvement initiative across a complex multi-sector leadership environment.
  • Developing a digital communication model that will integrate stakeholder needs for information and engagement. This project is examining the role of digital communication in developing community participation and engagement across and within sectors, and developing and implementing a digital communication strategy to support the objects of Equally Well.

Activities to date include:

  • A national symposium “Equally Well in Action: Implementing strategies to improve the physical health of people living with mental illness” held at RMIT City Campus, Melbourne, in 2019 with 250 delegates
  • The establishment of an international support and collaborative learning network of 12 countries in September 2019 to address the global issue of improving the physical health of people living with mental illness. More
  • Professor Russell Roberts was a keynote speaker at a symposium on the topic hosted by the Victorian Government in 2019.
  • A Parliamentary Forum at Parliament House held in Canberra in October, 2019 was convened by members of the Equally Well project team and Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy. It was attended by more than 50 industry partners and parliamentarians. Professor Russell Roberts was a keynote speaker at the forum which developed a set of priority recommendations to present to government to improve Australia’s physical and mental health treatments and services. These were:
    • implementing structural changes and improving access to services designed for people living with the coexisting conditions;
    • a re-orientation of mental health services so the prevention of physical health conditions is considered a priority;
    • adopting a collaborative approach to policy and practice that covers treatment and prevention of coexisting conditions; and
    • strengthening treatments so they better address the multi-morbidities in people living with mental health conditions.  More

In 2020, the researchers secured a further $115,019 to extend the project for another year.


A comprehensive Equally Well website, which includes resources such as Tips to maintain physical health, and the benefits of physical activity has been developed.

Proceedings of the 2019 Equally Well Symposium, 28-29 March 2019, RMIT Melbourne. Available at


The expected outcome of the Equally Well initiative is that it will help improve the physical health of people living with a mental illness.


A/Prof Russell Roberts email

Bathurst campus

September 2020