Mental Health Awareness Week: A Note on Exercise and the Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation Approach

Mental Health Awareness Week: 10th – 17th October 2020

Celebrated around Australia, Mental Health Awareness Week aims to improve community awareness and interest in mental health and wellbeing. This year’s theme, “Strengthening Our Community – Live, Learn, Work, Play”represents a call to all, addressing an ever-relevant issue in our country – and the world at large. Below is a summary around mental health, exercise, and Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation’s principles on delivering and establishing change within mental illness care.

A Background on Mental Health and Illness

Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”1 Recently, mental health appears to have become interchangeable with ‘mental illness’ – however the latter is in fact a term to describe a specific condition using standard diagnostic criteria, where common symptoms that affect thoughts, feelings and behaviours are prevalent. Commonly diagnosed mental illnesses include Depression, Anxiety, Adjustment Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Almost half (45.5%) of Australians experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime, and –
‘One in five Australians (21%) have taken time off work in the past 12 months because they felt stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy’2

Exercise for Mental Health and Illness3

  • Exercise benefits for mental wellness are significant and wide-ranging; they are preventative, but also rehabilitative and reparative.

  • Exercise can optimise mental health to assist in general wellbeing and/ or to mitigate mental illness before it occurs and/ or help individuals recover once it has been diagnosed.

  • Exercise can improve psychological and psychiatric symptoms, as well as general mood, cognition, alertness, concentration, and sleep patterns.

  • Exercise can contribute to overall enhanced quality-of-life: facilitating social interaction, providing meaningful use of time and harnessing empowerment.

  • Exercise is a foundational mechanism to address secondary physical health issues existing alongside mental health issues noting that people with mental illness are twice as likely to develop cardiometabolic, respiratory or infectious diseases compared with the general population.

  • Exercise has in recent years not only become a routine means by which individuals optimise their mental health, but has also very much advanced its place as part of routine clinical care for those living with mental illness and in mental health service settings. The Lancet Psychiatry Commission said it best themselves in a landmark 2019 paper: all people living with mental illness should have access to exercise interventions as part of routine healthcare.4

Establishing Autonomy through Exercise

Fortunately, advances in the place of exercise in routine mental healthcare have in very recent years translated across to Personal Injury spheres, where Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation has been an industry-leader. Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation has a strong, unwavering purpose in innovatively and strategically improving the health, as well as the rehabilitation outcomes – and claims trajectory – for individuals suffering from a Mental Illness.

Guardian Exercise Rehabilitation has significant and varied experience in delivering rehabilitative exercise programming and services for personnel afflicted with mental illness, focused on three overarching principles:

  • Based on the core rehabilitation concept of ‘Meaningful Activity’, assist in developing a routine of structured, habitual exercise, that can be progressively and independently managed.

  • Assist in achieving improved physical, psychological and psychosocial health outcomes that support existing clinical interventions in optimising rehabilitation and recovery outcomes.

  • Optimise capacity to maximise health and quality-of-life, and support recovery-at-work processes as appropriate and in a durable manner to achieve positive, durable claims outcomes.

Guardian Melbourne to ‘Make a Move’

Not only do they work principally with clients who have diagnosed mental illness, but our Melbourne team also know all too well the impact COVID-19 has had on general mental health and wellbeing.

Through October, our Melbourne Team have thus decided to take positive steps in looking after their own health as well as raising funds and awareness by participating in the Make a Move challenge. Make a Move is designed to: 

  • Improve your own mental health while you raise money for youth suicide prevention.

  • All you have to do is dedicate time to moving your body every day for the month of October. You’ll feel better and you’ll be making a positive move to save young lives.

  • Do it any way you like. You can run, you can swim, you can walk. You can even roller-skate, rock-climb, or hula-hoop. What’s important is to just get moving.

If you would like to join our endeavour of achieving 60 activity minutes per day throughout October or would like to make a donation to assist our cause, please find further details here.

#LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia #InThisTogether



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