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Depression has often been described as the black dog, but in a new campaign launched by Exercise Right, How to train your mental health monsters takes a different approach to both visualising and managing mental illness.

  How to Train Your Mental Health Monsters’ is a national campaign designed to increase community awareness of the importance of regular physical activity for maintaining good mental health, and its role in the prevention and management of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In a throwback to Cornish artist Toby Allen’s series of drawings which helped to reduce the stigma and increase understanding around mental health conditions, Exercise Right’s illustrated ‘How to train your mental health monsters’ campaign hopes that the use of visualisation, imagination and evidence-based exercise tips and suggestions will make the discussion around mental health management easier, less scary and also highlight the positive role that exercise can play in this process. In Australia, mental disorders are the third most prevalent disease after cancer and cardiovascular disease. One in five (20%) Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. The onset of mental illness is typically around mid-to-late adolescence and Australian youth (18 – 24  years old) have the highest prevalence of mental illness than any other age group. Over one in four (26%) young Australians experience a mental illness every year [1]. Mental illness can be a scary thing. It is confusing, it can be crippling, and affects not only the individual, but the lives of carers and loved ones. It can also be a hard thing to understand for many. 65% of people with mental illness do not access any treatment [2,3]. This is worsened by delayed treatment due to serious problems in detection and accurate diagnosis. The proportion of people with mental illness accessing treatment is half that of people with physical disorders [2]. That’s why for Mental Health Month, Exercise Right hopes to shed light on mental illness and the benefits of exercise in helping to managing the sometimes scary scope of mental health with 'How to train your mental health monsters. There is a strong relationship between physical activity and symptoms of mental illness. Studies show that regular physical activity is associated with better mental health, emotional well-being and lower rates of mental disorders. Exercise doesn’t have to be extremely strenuous to provide a benefit. Even a brisk walk each day can make a real difference. If you feel daunted, start small and find something you feel good about doing. For more information on how to train  your mental health monsters talk to your local accredited exercise physiologist, who is the expert in prescribing the right exercise to help you. And for more information on managing mental illness, please contact a medical health professional**. And in the meantime, get some great exercise tips to help improve your mood in Exercise Right’s How to Train Your Mental Health Monsters campaign which provides evidence-based exercise themed training tips to help manage your mental health monsters. **If your mental health monsters are getting too hard to handle, we recommend consulting your local GP or mental health organisation such as beyondblue for more information.      

ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN

Social media is fantastic in connecting people all over the world. Recipes, mini-workouts, health products and fitness fashion. Everything is virtually (excuse the pun) available at the touch of a button. The problem: It offers a false sense of reality. This is not the real world people!

  Checking-in to a gym and posting gym selfies has two effects; it either leaves people feeling inspired or feeling self- conscious. Hash tags such as #cleaneating and #foodporn represent two things; restrictive eating or gorging. What on earth happened to common sense and enjoying life in moderation? All we have become is a self-absorbed society.  

#Hashtags, health & fitness

  Health and fitness has become more about punishing your body after you’ve had a #cheatmeal. Health and fitness has become more about looking aesthetically pleasing. Health and fitness has become what society exposes you to. What does a fit and healthy person look like anyway? Guaranteed we will all have a different answer.

3 T's - Tall, Tanned, Thin

  Females are striving for the 3 T’s – Tall, Tanned, Thin and then we have the complexity of our male counterparts, struggling between their #bulking and #shredding phases. It is alarming how easily manipulated young people become by this ‘fake’ world. They are drawn into the social media images and think that they are authentic and inspirational. Just like filters can illustrate a person’s “perfect” life, that person can also ‘filter’ what they want to show. We rarely see the whole picture. We only see a highlight reel of someone’s’ life. When consulting with our patients, we often ask for their goals. We hear responses such as: “I want an a*** like Kim K” or “I want to look skinny like Miranda Kerr.” Don’t get us wrong, these women are beautiful in their own right. How can the public avoid these people when they are flooding our newsfeeds and headlines? What ever happened to having the realistic ambition of being the best version of you?