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Approved Research

Understanding the associations between physical activity, environmental exposures and mental health outcomes in people with Severe Mental Illness.

Principal Investigator: Miss Danielle Windget
Approved Research ID: 71955
Approval date: June 16th 2021

Lay summary

The focus of this research is to explore how different levels of physical activity are associated with mood and anxiety in individuals with or without Severe Mental Illness (including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and related psychotic disorder). This project also aims to examine whether environmental factors (including access to green or blue spaces ) acts as a buffer for lower levels of activity and mental health difficulties. Previous research has suggested that individuals with Severe Mental Illness (SMI) have not been meeting recommended physical activity guidelines, which is a risk factor for chronic health problems and mortality. Research in healthy people has shown that proximity to green and blue space has been associated with increased engagement in physical activity and better mental wellbeing. However, whether access to green and blue space is related to improvement in mood and physical activity in SMI has yet to be established.

This project will use the environment around individual residences (e.g., density of greenspace and proximity to blue spaces from home) and examine its relationship with self-reported and objectively measured physical activity, and self-reported anxiety, depressive and psychotic symptoms. We will also compare any differences in these outcomes (environment factors, physical activity and mental health) in individuals with SMI to individuals without SMI. We will also test a theory that tries to explain why natural spaces may bring about positive effects on mental health, by looking at the role that reduced pollution levels and improved attention might play. This project will help determine the optimum duration, frequency and intensity of activity interventions for improving mental health difficulties and explore the potential benefits of green and blue space in individuals with SMI.