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New Insights into Exercising for the Body & the Mind

by Melanie Tri

Mental Health in Australia

Do you know someone with a mental health disorder? Chances are that you do, with one in five Australians aged 16-85 experiencing a mental illness in any year. This rising statistic has put Mental Health into the line of sight of the Australian government, with investment into programs such as Headspace which act as a one-stop-shop for young people who need help with mental health. However, further program initiatives that target physical health in those with mental illness remains to be wanted.

Protecting Physical Health in People with Mental Illness

Statistics show that people with mental illness are up to twice as likely to have health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, or diabetes than the general population.

In a recent Lancet Psychiatry commission, the better integration of physical and mental health care was recommended to prevent chronic health conditions in people with mental illnesses. The commission put a large emphasis on the role of exercise, physiology, dietetics, allied health and smoking cessation as a routine part of mental health treatment.

New evidence is also emerging to demonstrate that collaborative care models addressing behavioural activation, healthy lifestyle, exercise, and diet; are effective approaches that improve clinical outcomes and treatment adherence in the management of both mental illness and chronic physical conditions. A key component to these collaborative care models is the involvement of several health-care professionals working as a team with clear management plans and regular interprofessional communication.

Despite all of this information, 54% of people with mental illness do not access any treatment. A part of this could be because mental disorders are often more difficult to recognise; and people often don’t know where to seek aid. A good place to start is to visit headspace.org.au or go to your nearest Headspace clinic, GP, or health care professional.

Things you can do to boost your mental health

Headspace clinicians have provided some helpful tips for people to boost their mental health and wellbeing. I hope you will find these useful and easy to start doing in your day-to-day life.

  • Connect with Others
    Being able to spend time with family, friends, and people in your community can help you feel safe and connected.
  • Stay Active
    Move your mood. It’s no secret that exercise benefits your physical health, but it also can reduce stress and improve your mood and wellbeing.
  • Get Enough Sleep
    A good night’s sleep (7-8 hours) helps you feel energised and stay focused.
  • Eat Well
    Having proper and adequate nutrition can improve your mood, energy levels, and general health and wellbeing.
  • Cut back on alcohol and other drugs
    Cutting back will help you do other things better and maintain a healthier headspace. Alcohol and drugs only make you feel good in the short term and can impact poorly on your mental health and make you feel worse for longer.
  • Learn new things
    This gives you a variety of interests and options for handling tougher times.
  • Keep doing what you love
    Having fun in your life can give you a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

If you need to speak to someone urgently, please reach out to Lifeline’s 24 hour crisis support service on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467. If you are in an emergency situation requiring immediate assistance contact mental health services or emergency services on 000.


Sydney Sports Medicine Centre
Level 2, NSWIS Building
6 Figtree Drive
Sydney Olympic Park
NSW 2127

Written Correspondence
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Rhodes NSW 2138

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