Dave chats with Professor Katherine Boydell, Professor of Mental Health at the Black Dog Institute during Black Dog Institute’s Exercise Your Mood Week (4-12 May).

In a recent Medical Journal of Australia InSight+ article, Professor Katherine Boydell from the Black Dog Institute explains that non-medical factors like exercise and the arts have widespread effects on mental health. Professor Boydell and other experts argue that this needs to form part of holistic management programs for mental health issues.

Widely known as “social prescribing”, healthcare professionals are increasingly turning to prescribing schemes like exercise programs as a way to increase self-esteem, confidence and improve social and psychological wellbeing. This signals a move to formalise an approach that many GPS and allied health professionals have been using in their clinics for many years.

As part of the Black Dog Institute’s drive to get Australians moving more, the Exercise Your Mood campaign encourages people to build a regular ‘exercise hour’ into their week that suits their lifestyle to improve mental fitness and help prevent depression. Research by the Institute also shows that just one hour of physical activity each week could be enough to protect people from developing depressive symptoms.

 

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According to Professor Katherine Boydell, Professor of Mental Health at the Black Dog Institute, growing interest in social prescribing and the Institute’s own research findings confirms the importance of exercising regularly.

 

“We are making meaningful progress in the area of social prescribing in Australia and are looking at countries like the UK and Canada as inspiration. These countries are really increasing their support to healthcare professionals so they can prescribe their patients non-medical interventions like exercise programs. It is an effective method to offer people with depression help beyond typical therapy and medication.”

 

“The Exercise Your Mood campaign really gets to the heart of this opportunity.  It is about keeping the body in mind when approaching mental health and using things like exercise to offer individualistic and social support,” said Professor Boydell.

 

The Black Dog Institute recognises the role exercise can play in mental health and is placing a focus on exercise programs as part of its evidence-based clinical model for treating depression and other mental health issues.

 

High profile dietitian Lyndi Cohen, founder of the Keep It Real Program and author of ‘The Nude Nutritionist’, has made it a personal priority to help normalise mental health conversations and encourage people to seek support.

 

“Not speaking up about mental health perpetuates the idea that it’s not okay, to not be okay. I’m supporting the Exercise Your Mood campaign this year because it’s all about setting achievable exercise goals that suit your own, individual capabilities. Not everyone can commit to a rigorous exercise program, but making small changes in your day can help protect your mental health. This initiative is a reminder to reach out to the people around us and use exercise as a way to improve our wellbeing and start meaningful conversations about mental health,” said Lyndi.

 

The Black Dog Institute has developed a range of tools to help make it easier for people to participate in the Exercise Your Mood campaign and to build good mental health. The Snapshot App helps you measure and monitor your mental health and lifestyle factors, and the newly launched Exercise Your Mood Kickstarter guide gives real-life tips on how you can increase your physical activity.

 

Health and Fitness expert Michelle Bridges, who is the official Exercise Your Mood ambassador, wants to remind Australians that any form of exercise will make a difference on your mental fitness.

 

“A lot of people feel pressure to commit to a high impact exercise program in order to make a difference on their health and wellbeing. We are here to say that any extra physical activity you can manage on a daily basis will make a difference to your mental health. Doing any form of exercise or movement is better than doing none. This is an opportunity for Australians to get creative and look at how they can get active in a way that suits their lifestyle and needs,” said Michelle.

 

To get involved or to learn more about the Exercise Your Mood campaign, visit www.exerciseyourmood.org.au