October 10, 2020 is #WorldMentalHealthDay, a campaign by the World Federation for Mental Health to promote universal access to mental health care. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this year a challenging one for most of us. But for those with mental health conditions, social isolation has had an even greater impact.
Physiotherapists play a significant role in improving the wellbeing of those with mental health conditions, through facilitating physical activity, pain management and social participation. Physiotherapists are also active in health promotion, encouraging people of all ages and abilities to participate in exercise as a way of maintaining good mental health.
There is a significant amount of high-quality clinical research to guide the physiotherapy management of people with mental health conditions. PEDro currently indexes over 1,000 clinical practice guidelines, systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials evaluating physiotherapy treatment for people with mental health conditions.
You may like to review the following practice guidelines, which provide useful summaries for physiotherapists:
- European Psychiatric Association guidance on physical activity as a treatment for severe mental illness: a meta-review of the evidence and position statement (supported by the International Organization of Physical Therapists in Mental Health), 2018
- Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists clinical practice guidelines for mood disorders, 2015
- Mental health care in the perinatal period: Australian clinical practice guideline, 2017
There is a wealth of systematic reviews relevant to mental health; links to recent reviews can be found below:
- McGettigan M, et al. Physical activity interventions for disease-related physical and mental health during and following treatment in people with non-advanced colorectal cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2020;Issue 5
- Smith SM, et al. Interventions for improving outcomes in patients with multimorbidity in primary care and community settings. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016;Issue 3
- Ashdown-Franks G, et al. Exercise as medicine for mental and substance use disorders: a meta-review of the benefits for neuropsychiatric and cognitive outcomes. Sports Med;50(1):151-70
- Vogel JS, et al. The effect of mind-body and aerobic exercise on negative symptoms in schizophrenia: a meta-analysis. Psychiatry Res 2019;279:295-305
Earlier this year the PEDro team posted a summary and infographic for a systematic review that found that exercise improves symptoms of depression in people with chronic health conditions. Aerobic exercise has potentially clinically important effects on symptoms of depression in people with chronic non-communicable diseases. Certainty of evidence was strongest in people with cardiovascular disease. The exercise programs investigated targeted the health effects of the chronic conditions and were not specifically designed for symptoms of depression per se. It is also worth noting that this systematic review did not aim to assess the effect of exercise in people with clinical diagnosis of major depressive disorder. The citation is:
- Beland M, et al. Aerobic exercise alleviates depressive symptoms in patients with a major non-communicable chronic disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Brit J Sports Med 2020;54:272-8
You can search PEDro to find high-quality clinical research evaluating physiotherapy management for specific mental health conditions by entering the name of the condition in the “abstract and title” field. You can further restrict your search to a specific population by selecting a category in the subdiscipline field, such as “gerontology”, “paediatrics” or “continence and women’s health”.