The benefits go far beyond getting fitter. Working with Peer Health Coaches who understand the challenges, people who complete the program report a number of positive outcomes such as starting and maintaining regular exercise, cooking healthy meals, losing weight, stopping smoking, and improved mental wellbeing.
‘I wanted to try things a different way this time and Peer Health Coaching was really successful for me,‘ explains Rhiannon, who participated in the program following multiple hospital admissions associated with an eating disorder.
‘There was that immediate understanding that I was working with someone who had that lived experience of mental health recovery and that I would be understood. I found that really reassuring and I felt that we could really work through problems together,’ she adds.
As reported in the RANZCP’s report, Keeping the Body and Mind Together: Improving the physical health and life expectancy of people with serious mental illness, ‘psychiatrists and other health professionals need to be encouraged to recognise that weight gain and physical decline that so often occurs with a diagnosis of serious mental illness are by no means inevitable and there are effective interventions to reduce the risk of this happening.
‘Peer based interventions are a critical component of modern mental health care,’ says RANZCP President Professor Malcolm Hopwood.
SANE Australia and Neami National are proud to announce that the Peer Health Coaching Program has won the Mental Health Services Conference 2015 award in the Physical Health and/or Primary Care category. The award will be presented in Canberra today during opening proceedings of the annual conference.