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The knowledge, barriers and opportunities to improve nutrition and physical activity amongst young people attending an Australian youth mental health service: a mixed-methods study

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Mawer, T, Kent, K ORCID: 0000-0002-5330-7044, Williams, AD ORCID: 0000-0001-8863-3491, McGowan, CJ ORCID: 0000-0001-6974-8007, Murray, S ORCID: 0000-0002-2261-7840, Bird, ML ORCID: 0000-0001-9642-7196, Hardcastle, S ORCID: 0000-0003-3868-8499 and Bridgman, H ORCID: 0000-0002-1232-952X 2022 , 'The knowledge, barriers and opportunities to improve nutrition and physical activity amongst young people attending an Australian youth mental health service: a mixed-methods study' , BMC Health Services Research, vol. 22 , p. 789 , doi: 10.1186/s12913-022-08182-0.

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Abstract

BackgroundMental illnesses are the leading cause of disability in young people, and lifestyle interventions in young people at risk of mental illness remain a priority. Opportunities to improve nutrition and physical activity among young people through youth mental health services remain unclear. This study aimed to determine the knowledge and behaviors towards nutrition and physical activity, the barriers and enablers to improving behaviors, and the preferred providers and sources of information for nutrition and physical activity among a sample of young people attending a youth mental health service.MethodsA mixed-method study was conducted in regional Tasmania, Australia in a sample of young people (15–25 years) attending a youth mental health service (headspace). A quantitative survey (n = 48) determined young people’s nutrition and physical activity knowledge, behaviors, barriers and enablers to achieving recommendations, and their preferred providers and sources of information. Structured interviews and a focus group further explored these concepts (n = 8), including the role of the mental health service as a provider of this support.ResultsThe majority of participants did not meet national recommendations for nutrition and physical activity, despite possessing a high level of knowledge regarding their importance for mental health. Improving mental health was a common enabling factor for participants choosing to alter diet and physical activity habits, but also the leading barrier for participating in physical activity. Young people wanted to receive information from reputable health providers, ideally through social media sources. headspace was seen as an important potential provider of this information.ConclusionsOur results indicate that there is a clear need to improve diet and physical activity habits to enhance mental and physical health outcomes in this at-risk group, and youth mental health services could provide further interventions to support their clients. Specialized staff (e.g. dietitians and exercise physiologists) may provide additional benefits alongside existing mental health care support.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Mawer, T and Kent, K and Williams, AD and McGowan, CJ and Murray, S and Bird, ML and Hardcastle, S and Bridgman, H
Keywords: Mental health, service delivery, youth, adolescents, regional programs, community nutrition programs, community exercise programs, community physical activity programs, youth mental health, rural mental health service delivery, nutrition, physical ac
Journal or Publication Title: BMC Health Services Research
Publisher: Biomed Central Ltd
ISSN: 1472-6963
DOI / ID Number: 10.1186/s12913-022-08182-0
Copyright Information:

© 2022. The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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