Mental health link the focus of chronic diseases conference

27 July 2011

Places are still open for interested NT and interstate participants to join chronic disease* experts from around Australia in Darwin to focus on the under-recognised links between chronic diseases and mental health.

Chronic Diseases- Mental Health, 'Out of the shadows into the spotlight' is the theme of this year's 15th Chronic Diseases Network Annual Conference, Thursday 8 and Friday 9 September at the Darwin Convention Centre.

"Discussions will focus on the links between mental health and the prevention and management of chronic conditions," said Dr Christine Connors, Program Leader, Department of Health Chronic Conditions Strategy Unit.

"Depression is a very common but often unrecognised complication for people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease. This makes it more difficult for a person to make important lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, and also makes it hard for them to manage their illness well."

Dr Connors said people with chronic mental illnesses such as schizophrenia are more likely to develop chronic diseases and die earlier from complications.

"The increasing recognition and management of mental health problems with chronic physical problems is essential to improve a patient's health as well as assist their families."

The Chronic Diseases Network has confirmed a line-up of high-profile keynote speakers who will bring extensive and diverse experiences from scientific, consumer and community advocacy backgrounds.

  • Professor David Clarke, Research advisor to Beyondblue
  • Mr Tom Calma, National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking
  • Associate Professor Tricia Nagel, Menzies School of Health Research Divisional Leader.
  • Ms Fay Jackson, Director of Vision in Mind

The conference program is structured to provide two days of presentations, panel discussions, workshops and exhibitions that have a strong focus on Northern Territory-based initiatives. Papers will be presented by Aboriginal people, many from remote areas of the NT and interstate.

The conference will be officially opened at 5.30pm on 7 September by the NT Minister for Health, Hon. Kon Vatskalis. Department of Health Chief Executive, Jeff Moffett, will welcome conference delegates on the first day.

The conference is open to all working in the area of chronic diseases or mental health, and spaces are still available. Details can be viewed at

*   Chronic disease are illnesses that persist over a long period. Examples include diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and lung diseases.

Media inquiries: Sarah Keane-Stack 89 992 751