Physiotherapists treat patients whose physical and mental conditions overlap. This necessitates a multidisciplinary approach through the guidance of professional development in mental health that could contribute to connecting the physical and psychological health for people with mental health problems.
1 in 5 Australians aged 16-85 experience mental health conditions. This also entails those patients receiving physical therapy that are vulnerable to mental illness or at the risk of having one.
The increasing emergence of the psychotherapists is seen by the establishment of the Australian Physiotherapy Association’s Mental Health Group which serves as an integral role in providing a conducive environment for mental healthcare which boils down to the improvement of awareness and the recognition of the importance of an interdisciplinary approach.
The Australian Physiotherapy Association is a great avenue for connecting physiotherapists involved in mental health treatment. Among the benefits that could be obtained in joining a Mental Health physiotherapy group are:
- Receive emails and updates from physiotherapist experienced in mental health
- The latest research on mental health developments
- Professional opportunities in mental health
- Granting attendance to lectures
- Facebook group access
- Updates on committee activities throughout the country
Michael Edmonds, the Head Physiotherapists Orthopaedics at the Prince of Wales Hospital, also affirms the significant role of the physiotherapist in mental health.
This involves not only exercise as one of the core preventive mechanisms for people with mental health challenges but also the holistic approach to the workings and healing of muscular and skeletal system in post-surgery.
Sports therapist Kusal Goonewardena echoes similar things on the links of physical ailments to the mindset and mentality of both athletes and no-athletes.]
These links are manifested largely on how patients do which greatly manifests their mental health condition. He also recognises the possible implication of mental health to injury recovery.
According to Mr. Goonewardena, the complete understanding of the connection between physical and mental involvement in injury makes him feel a complete physiotherapist.
Director of Move Medics, Selina Tannenberg affirms similar sentiments but is more leaning towards the correlation of mental illness and pain.
Through such understanding, physiotherapists could very well utilise the worth of movement, exercise prescription and rehabilitation for people with mental health conditions.
It is the role of physiotherapists to prescribe the necessary dosage of movement for people of various ages and abilities. This consideration could also be relevant for people with injuries, recovering from surgeries and illnesses who are not sure how to start for their recovery.
Aside from preventive roles, physiotherapists also play an important role in health education in promoting good mental health.
This involves education on how physical activities could cut the chances of forming chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Ms. Tannenberg who personally experienced depression told that sharing her story is powerful in breaking stigma connected with mental health issues and encourages people with mental health to seek professional help especially if deemed necessary.
Although undergraduate subjects of physiotherapy involve subjects to mental health this does not suffice the necessary focus on handling mental health issues.
Nowadays, we can see an increasing reduction of the stigma of mental illness because of ongoing educational programs and promotional efforts done by different organisations and groups such as the Black Dog Institute and this is also done with the support of industry associations.
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