The Northern Health and Social Care Trust has recently opened a new gym in the Ross Thompson Unit at Causeway Hospital for people who have mental health problems and are receiving care and support either as inpatients or in the community.
The mental health benefits of physical activity are well established helping to reduce anxiety and depression, enhance people’s mood, improve self-worth and body image, and cognitive functioning.
Phil Hughes, Assistant Director of Mental Health Services in the Northern Trust said,
“There is extensive evidence, including guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, that physical exercise has a positive effect on patient’s mental health and wellbeing. Physical activity has also been shown to enhance the effectiveness of psychological therapies and to have a role in improving quality of life and symptom management for people with a wide range of mental health problems.
“The gym has its own dedicated Mental Health Physiotherapist who demonstrates to the patients how they should use the equipment. The gym includes an exercise bike, treadmill, rower, cross trainer and weight station machine.
“Patients are prescribed exercise by the Physiotherapist to help maintain positive wellbeing. It is hoped that this establishes good lifestyle habits and self-care that will be carried on when discharged from hospital”.
As well as promoting exercise to help patient mental wellbeing the physiotherapist will treat patients with pre-existing physical health problems such as back pain or mobility problems. Physiotherapy also aims to make a positive contribution towards patient mental wellbeing by the promotion of exercise.
Tailored exercise plans are developed by the physiotherapist for each patient and it is hoped that, as well as helping to maintain positive wellbeing, it establishes good lifestyle habits.
This is important in ensuring patients continue to look after themselves when discharged from hospital.