Best Abstract Award for Tobias Schiffler and colleagues for ’CoMitMent project’

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Tobias Schiffler from MedUni Vienna’s Center for Public Health, together with his project colleagues Christopher Tupy and Lisa Kainzbauer, received the Best Abstract Award for their presentation of the CoMitMent project at the Sixth International Psychiatry Congress on Mental Health and Recovery in Bern.

Tobias Schiffler and his colleagues Christopher Tupy (Interessenvertretung der Erfahrungsexpert:innen Wien (IdEE Wien)) and Lisa Kainzbauer (Hilfe für Angehörige psychisch Erkrankter Wien (HPE Wien)) presented results and data from the CoMitMent project, in which people with lived experience and experts worked together to find solutions for better healthcare for people with mental illness. The entire project, from the beginning to the analysis and presentation of the data, was carried out in collaboration between experts and people with lived experience.

The background

People with lived experience of mental illness (PMI) are affected by blatant inequalities in somatic healthcare due to socio-economic disadvantages such as social isolation, poverty, or stigmatization. This leads to inadequate and delayed treatment and severely affects their health, with life expectancy up to 20 years below average.

CoMitMenT seeks to identify what hindering and facilitating factors PMI experience when seeking medical help for physical concerns and what interventions (would) support them in seeking more somatic healthcare services.

CoMitMenT is planned and implemented in a qualitative participatory manner by a "trialogical" steering group. In two co-creation workshops, PMI, relatives and friends of PMI, as well as professional helpers met to discuss the above questions. The data was collected through participant observation and direct contributions from participants and analyzed thematically.

From the data obtained, six core topics with associated proposals for action could be derived: "Accessibility and facility design" (e.g., preparation opportunities for PMI before visiting a physician’s office), "Resources and bureaucracy" (e.g., practical support in filling out forms), "Raising awareness among healthcare professionals" (e.g., low-threshold encounters with PMI) and "Accessibility and design of facilities". (e.g., encounters with PMI/relatives as part of professional trainings), "Social awareness" (e.g., integration of psychosocial topics in education), "Structural diversity of services" (e.g., official website with an overview of services), and "Networking" (e.g., telephone consultation services).

The problems and measures identified show concrete steps to improve somatic care for PMI, while the findings underline the need for an integrated approach that covers several dimensions simultaneously.

CoMitMenT could form the basis for social, systemic, and political change to reduce inequalities in healthcare and improve the quality of life of this underserved population.