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Exercising Together This World Mental Health Day

October 10th of each year marks 10/10 World Mental Health Day – a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. This year sees the launch of Mental Health Australia’s 2017 campaign, ‘Do You See What I See?’ to help encourage Australians to shed a more positive light on mental health.

As a partner for this year’s campaign, Exercise & Sport Science Australia (ESSA) supports this key message, and continues to raise awareness of the importance of reducing stigma surrounding mental health.

“The stigma surrounding mental health is significant, especially when you consider that one in five Australians is affected by poor mental well-being,” says ESSA Chief Executive Officer, Anita Hobson-Powell.

“It’s important to promote a positive approach to tackling an issue such as mental health.”

This year’s 10/10 campaign asks Australians to #MakeAPromise, encouraging people at home, at work, family and friends, or the wider community, to engage in those meaningful conversations about mental health.

An ideal opportunity for these conversations to happen in a non-confrontational, de-stigmatising way, while also helping to improve each other’s mental and physical well-being, can be through engaging in physical activity.

Earlier this month, ESSA launched its mental health campaign, ‘Move Together – Change Together’, to raise awareness of the benefits exercising socially has on our mental well-being – not only for those people living with a mental illness, but also for those supporting someone diagnosed with a mental health condition.

Recent research led by the Black Dog Institute indicated that 12 per cent of cases of depression could have been prevented by one hour of physical activity a week.

“Exercise is proven to be effective as a part of treatment for mental illnesses, and exercising with someone and starting those conversations can help manage someone’s mental health and keep them on track with treatment, or at least check in to let them know they have support available,” clarifies Ms Hobson-Powell.

The Move Together – Change Together campaign quotes a range of people living with a mental illness, either personally or as their support network, who are exercising socially within the mental health treatment.

As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP), Ismini Dandanis has seen first-hand the positive outcomes of physical activity for those living with poor mental well-being.  

Ismini explains the importance of providing a safe, inclusive and accessible environment for those with mental health conditions to be able to engage in regular physical activity, under the guidance of an AEP.

“The individuals we work with report improvements in their overall health and well-being.  That is, improved physical, social, emotional and mental health.  This might be demonstrated in terms of improvements in sleep patterns, mood, relationships with friends and family, the ability to relax and find enjoyment in certain activities again or even being able to establish and maintain a routine again.”

It’s important when thinking about exercising right for your mental health conditions, that an appropriately qualified exercise professional, such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP), is contacted first.

“An Accredited Exercise Physiologist is well positioned to provide a holistic approach to deliver effective exercise, guide behaviour change and develop realistic and achievable clinical and functional goals for an individual with a mental health condition,” adds Ms Dandanis.

“An Accredited Exercise Physiologist will consider the whole situation, liaise with the treating medical team and provide specific insight into working toward the individual’s desired outcomes.”

For more information on World Mental Health Day, and to #MakeAPromise today, please visit the 1010 website.

For more information on exercising right for your mental health, please visit the Exercise Right website.

You can contact your local AEP via the ESSA website.