Physical activity and sedentary behaviour counselling: Attitudes and practices of mental health professionals

Shrestha, Nipun and Pedisic, Zeljko and Jurakic, Danijel and Biddle, Stuart J. H. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7663-6895 and Parker, Alexandra (2021) Physical activity and sedentary behaviour counselling: Attitudes and practices of mental health professionals. PLoS One, 16 (7):e0254684. pp. 1-16.

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Abstract

Background: Despite recent interest in the mental health benefits of increasing physical activity (PA) and reducing sedentary behaviour (SB), little is known about PA and SB counselling provided by mental health professionals. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the attitudes and practices of mental health professionals in recommending more PA and less SB to their clients. Methods: Quantitative data were collected using a modified version of the Exercise in Mental Illness Questionnaire in a sample of 17 Australian mental health professionals. The collected data were reported using percentages (for categorical data) and means and standard deviations (for numerical data). Additionally, in focus group discussions, 10 mental health professionals provided in-depth information about their clinical practice, facilitators, and perceived barriers in recommending more PA and less SB. They also provided suggestions on how to potentially improve their PA and SB counselling practices. The focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Results Only 35.3% of participants have undergone formal training in recommending PA in the treatment of mental illness. Most participants (64.7%) ranked PA counselling among the top three types of mental health treatment. All participants reported recommending PA to their clients at least “occasionally”, while 88% of them also provided SB counselling. However, the recommendations provided were usually not specific. The most commonly reported barriers for providing PA and SB counselling were a lack of knowledge and confidence. Participants also believed that, if they were more active themselves, they would be in a better position to recommend PA to their clients, by sharing their own experience of evidence-informed strategies designed to increase PA and reduce SB. Conclusion: The findings of this study indicate that mental health professionals commonly provide generic PA and SB counselling to their clients. PA and SB counselling in the mental health setting could be improved by: including training on PA and SB counselling in formal education and continued professional training for mental health professionals; implementing interventions to increase PA and reduce SB among mental health professionals themselves; and ensuring support from an exercise or PA promotion specialist as a part of a multi-disciplinary approach to mental health care.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright: © 2021 Shrestha et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Health Research (1 Apr 2020 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Health Research (1 Apr 2020 -)
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2021 04:16
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2021 05:22
Uncontrolled Keywords: adult; Article; audio recording; Australian; clinical practice; controlled study; counseling; Exercise in Mental Illness Questionnaire; female; health personnel attitude; human; male; mental disease; mental health care; mental health care personnel; personal experience; physical activity; quantitative analysis; questionnaire; sedentary lifestyle; thematic analysis
Fields of Research (2008): 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170114 Sport and Exercise Psychology
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science > 110699 Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified
17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5203 Clinical and health psychology > 520304 Health psychology
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4207 Sports science and exercise > 420799 Sports science and exercise not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 20 HEALTH > 2003 Provision of health and support services > 200305 Mental health services
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0254684
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/44112

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