On Friday 2 November, more than 100 exercise professionals from more than 35 different trusts and organisations around the country, came together at Springfield Hospital in Tooting, to discuss the importance of physical activity in treating both physical and mental health conditions and the increased recognition for addressing parity of esteem within mental health care.
The inaugural Exercise Professionals for Mental Health (EPMH) Conference, organised by the Exercise Professionals for Mental Health Network, was an opportunity for qualified exercise professionals working in mental health settings to share best practice, research and learning and to establish guidance and standards for services to work towards to ensure safe effective evidence based practices are being adhered to throughout the country.
Throughout the day delegates heard from Public Health England, South London and Maudsley (SLAM), Eastern Suburbs Mental Health Service Australia, two inspirational recovery stories from people with lived experience of mental health Illness and how exercise helped their recovery, and para-triathlete, Joe Townsend, on a variety of topics from inequalities in mental health care and the compounding research evidence for bringing exercise interventions from the periphery to the core of mental health treatment to individual recovery stories.
Speaking at the event, EPMH Network founders and Clinical Exercise Therapists at South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, Steven Clark and Sofie Grabinski, said: “It was fantastic to see the number of exercise professionals working in mental health settings from around the country coming together with the aim of moving physical activity from the fringes to the core of people’s care. The feedback was that it was a resounding success with the acknowledgment of the need to integrate exercise professionals to the Multi-disciplinary teams and establishing an accreditation process for the profession.
“The evidence of physical health inequalities in those suffering from mental health conditions and for physical activity interventions and the use of qualified exercise professionals in peoples care is there for all to see. However it is now time to stop hearing the evidence and time to start acting on these findings. From the support and enthusiasm at this conference, we hope to be able to help services establish meaningful changes to people’s care pathways by addressing both physical and mental health through exercise and physical activity.”