Joining the dots between mental illness and mental wellbeing

Wellbeing experts who presented at the 7th Australasian Mental Health Outcomes and Information Conference (AMHOIC) held in Auckland earlier this month, say to reduce the risk of mental illness we need more focus on measuring someone’s wellbeing and to move away from just measuring their mental illness.


Matthew Iasiello and Joep Van Agteren, two wellbeing research and measurement experts from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), say having no measure of wellbeing in Australasia means we have no way of knowing who is at risk of developing a mental illness until it is too late.

“(Mental) Illness is about symptoms of disorder like depression and anxiety; whereas mental health is about things that build your wellbeing like positive emotions, a sense of meaning and quality relationships,” says Matthew Iasiello.

“Our research looks at developing a wellbeing to mental illness measure so we have a better idea of who is at risk, their level of risk and what we can do to reduce the risk of mental illness before it’s too late.”

Matthew says their research so far shows that people with low levels of wellbeing are eight times more likely to develop a mental illness. He says through a focus on wellbeing and not just on mental illness, new interventions can be introduced to help people improve their overall mental health.

Along with this wellbeing research, the focus of the ‘Joining the dots’ themed AMHOIC conference hosted by Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui, was on measuring the success of new and existing mental health and addiction services.

The conference brought together over 200 mental health and addiction specialists from New Zealand and Australia to share knowledge, insights and tools around harnessing the power of information to improve people’s wellbeing.

The AMHOIC programme showcased real examples of how the mental health and addiction sector is using information and outcomes to influence change and included presentations by government agencies, health and social services, non-government organisations, community-based organisations, researchers and education providers.

Pictured (L to R): AMHOIC presenters Marion Blake, Platform Trust Chief Executive; Robyn Shearer, Ministry of Health Deputy Director-General Mental Health and Addiction; Rae Lamb, Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui Chief Executive; Helen Lockett, Wise Group Strategic Policy Advisor

Published on: 20 November 2019