Small steps: physical health promotion for people living with mental illness

Vivien Kemp, Colleen Fisher, Sharon Lawn, Malcolm Battersby, Mohan K Isaac

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Physical health promotion for people with mental illness is vital if the life expectancy of this population group is to be improved. While there is promising evidence of physical health promotion initiatives in the literature in this population group, it is unclear whether these have resulted in long-term gains and actually reduced morbidity and mortality. We aimed to identify which physical health promotion strategies and resources were most likely to resonate with people who have long-term mental health problems and live in the community. We facilitated three focus groups in metropolitan Perth with 27 participants who experienced long-term serious mental health problems for this qualitative study. Participants were clear about which health promotion resources and approaches they did or did not consider would engage them. Participants wanted health messages that were positive, clear and not too wordy. They tended to dislike pamphlets and preferred DVDs. They also preferred to participate in health promotion activities in groups. Participants were aware of the need to engage in health protective behaviours but were often overwhelmed by their mental health problems. Health promotion for this population group ought to capitalise on therapeutic alliances with staff and informal peer networks already established in drop-in centres and clubhouses.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)97-112
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Promotion
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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