Participation in green exercise: Experiences of people with acute mental distress in an inpatient psychiatric facility

Green exercise is defined as any physical activity undertaken in natural settings. Synergistic benefits of green exercise have additional emotional and mentally restorative properties.

People with mental distress describe experience of profound symptoms. Symptoms often lead to reoccurring admissions to inpatient psychiatric facilities. These purpose-built environments are characteristically restrictive. Participation in green exercise programs in this setting may reduce distress and improve mood and wellbeing.

Green exercise can also provide opportunities for social interaction, community connectedness and a sense of space and freedom. The physiological benefits are also imperative for this population who mostly have highly sedentary lifestyles, use medications with side effects such as weight gain and are at increased risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. However, little research has specifically investigated the impact of green exercise for people experiencing acute mental distress in inpatient psychiatric settings. Providing opportunities to participate in holistic and adjunctive symptom management strategies aligns with the principles of the recovery framework.

The 14th International Mental Health Conference welcomes Ms Andrea Hill will present her research at this event being held at Outrigger, Surfers Paradise on Monday the 5th and Tuesday the 6th of August 2013.

Ms Andrea Hill is an occupational therapist at the Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit, The Sutherland Hospital. She has worked in both inpatient and community mental health settings. Andrea’s current role in inpatient mental health rehabilitation involves assisting people with mental distress to improve their function in activities of daily living, and explore meaningful activities in the community to promote recovery, independence and social inclusion. Andrea has particular interest in promoting and facilitating physical health initiatives and strategies for people with mental distress. She has developed a range of group and individual interventions addressing physical activity, nutrition, smoking cessation and living a balanced lifestyle. Andrea is currently studying a Masters of Science at the University of Western Sydney, with a focus on exploring the experiences of participating in a green exercise program in an inpatient psychiatric facility.