St Andrew’s Healthcare is a charity providing specialist mental healthcare for people with challenging mental health needs. It currently hosts approximately 850 patients across four main sites in Northampton, Birmingham, Nottingham and Essex and employs around 4,500 staff.
Dr Florence Kinnafick and Dr Anthony Papathomas from Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences have been working closely with colleagues at St Andrew’s Healthcare to explore physical activity promotion in secure mental health settings.
A recent study with Healthcare Assistants at St Andrew’s Healthcare explored their role, perceptions and attitudes to exercise promotion for their adult patients. A current PhD student, Eva Rogers is also looking to develop a psychologically informed intervention to help staff promote physical activity to patients in a motivational and encouraging way, while a further Loughborough and St Andrew’s Healthcare match-funded PhD will commence in October, looking at promoting physical activity in adolescent wards.
Dr Kinnafick and Dr Papathomas hosted a celebration event to formalise the partnership at the NCSEM-EM this June, funded by the University’s CALIBRE initiative. Colleagues from St Andrew’s Healthcare attended the two-day event to present on their organisational priorities and hear presentations from academics and colleagues from across School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. Further talks took place to discuss research priorities underpinning the collaboration.
Future plans for the partnership include a sandpit event next spring to bring together different areas of expertise from across the School, the NCSEM-EM, and St Andrew’s Healthcare, and also develop objectives around what the collaboration will aim to achieve.
Dr Kinnafick said: “Dr Papathomas and I are very excited to officially mark this collaboration with St Andrew’s Healthcare. Working with St Andrew’s brings the opportunity to access a sizable population of patients who have previously been hard to reach for this type of research. We are looking forward to combining our expertise with those of our colleagues at St Andrew’s to drive forward a multi-disciplinary body of work which will benefit the patients at the hospital.”
Johnny Fountain, Director of St Andrew’s Healthcare Research Centre said: “People with mental health problems have a reduced life expectancy, and are at increased risk of developing severe physical health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Poor physical health is a major inhibitor to mental health recovery and can lead to stigmatisation, isolation and depression. This research will contribute to improving the health of mental health patients.”
Professor Mark Lewis, Dean of the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and Director of the NCSEM-EM added: “This partnership highlights the importance of collaboration between researchers and healthcare providers to develop a better understanding of the role physical activity promotion can play in secure mental health settings. We are delighted to be involved in a significant partnership of this kind.”