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.