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Physical Activity for Health Among Torture and Trauma Survivors: an opportunity for treatment and prevention.

Physical Activity for Health Among Torture and Trauma Survivors: an opportunity for treatment and prevention.

School of Psychiatry, UNSW Sydney, , Australia, Black Dog Institute, , Australia, STARTTS, , Australia, St John of God Health Care, Richmond, Australia
People from refugee backgrounds face intersecting challenges which impact on their right to health. Among these, psychosocial challenges, psychological disorders and non-communicable diseases are impacted by history of potentially traumatic events and ongoing resettlement stressors. Low-cost, scalable interventions which can help address both physical and psychosocial health issues in this group are urgently required. Physical activity and exercise improve both physical and mental health and even modest increases can prevent and manage chronic disease, including depression. Despite the clear potential benefits, routine implementation of physical activity within refugee services remains ad-hoc. Several barriers to implementation exist including practitioner knowledge, confidence and skills in physical activity promotion. Our team has utilised novel approaches to increasing the provision of clinical physical activity programs within treatment services such as delivering staff-focused exercise interventions (in both Australia and Turkey), which aim to increase the knowledge, confidence and skills of mental health practitioners while simultaneously increasing their own levels of physical activity participation. This presentation aims to i) outline the evidence for physical activity in improving
the physical and mental health of refugees, ii) describe novel strategies for adopting physical activity within clinical services and iii) using international case studies, provide examples of physical activity programs targeting refugee populations.