Location: Indiana, United States

I became a Professor Emeritus after serving 29 years as a recreational therapy faculty member at Indiana University. I'm a long-time Hoosier, having grown up in Hanover, Indiana. My RT practitioner work was in psych/mental health. After completing my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, my first faculty position was at the University of North Texas. RT has been a wonderful profession for me as I have had the opportunity to serve as an author and national leader.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Obesity and Persons with Mental Illness

From NCPAD Newsletters of 11-17-06:

"The prevalence of obesity among people with disabilities is significantly higher than in the general population. Individuals who have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, for example, have a significantly higher rate of obesity compared to the general population, which some experts believe is related to the types of medications they are taking along with poor lifestyle choices. The health risks associated with obesity among people with mental illness lead to higher rates of other health problems such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes, as well as decreased adherence to medication. Thus, it is extremely important for researchers to find innovative ways to reduce obesity among people with mental illness to avoid the deleterious effects of excess weight, which, when added to the multiple effects of various psychotropic medications, creates significant health risks in this population."

Obesity is a major problem for those with mental illness. It seems to me that RTs should lead the way in the provision of physical activity programs for persons with mental illness. What do you think?


Blogger maryann said...

I think it's important for any mental health professional to educate those with mental illness on the importance of a healthy lifestyle. I find that many, if not all of the clients I see, struggle with weight issues and at the same time have a poor knowledge base of exercise and nutrition. I agree that RT's are great candidates to take the lead in regard to the mental health population.

In the adult ADL group I facilitate, we discuss healthy eating habits and the importance of daily exercise. I've found that we do not discuss these issues as often as I think we should or need to. I also have constant difficulties with my co-facilitator maintaining consistentcy in PRACTICING healthy food choices, thus he sets a poor example for the clients. This is often a worrisome thing for me to work through when it comes up, as many of my clients are diabetic, overweight, and/or are just in poor general health.

Another problem I sometimes find with facilitating exercise "sessions" with my group is that often there are a few people in the group who have difficulty with ambulation. Consequently, they have to stay behind or not participate in walks with the group. During this time, though, staff does engage them in simple flexibility or weight training exercises, which is also an area of fitness that is overlooked, especially in my older clients.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Mike and Michelle said...

I agree. As someone who enjoys weight training and exercise, I see first-hand the physical, mental, and emotional benefits I derive from it. I think we face an epidemic of obesity in general in our country. It would benefit all for RTs to get in on this market!

8:37 PM  

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