While physical activity (PA) is recommended in the treatment of severe mental illness (SMI), there are no standardized processes for implementing PA in mental healthcare, and the extent to which PA programs have been implemented is unknown. Therefore, we sought to describe usual care in terms of the provision of PA in the National Health Service (NHS) Mental Health Trusts in England for people with SMI.
We invited all NHS Mental Health Trusts across England to participate in a bespoke survey.
Fifty-two mental health trusts (96.2%) responded, of which 47 (87%) offered some form of physical activity provision. The provision across these 47 trusts comprised 93 different types of PA programs. The programs that were identified showed vast differences in the types of physical activity offered, the settings in which they were provided, and the providers.
Although existing mental healthcare services are demonstrating good practice in some areas, the findings of this survey underline the pressing need for more standardization of PA programs that are delivered to people with SMI, better allocation of resources, staff training, improved monitoring of the delivery of these programs, and better PA support for patients as they transition to community care.