How A Physiotherapist Can Help Your Mental Health

Having just recently had R U OK day (10th September), and with World Mental Health day approaching (10th October) there is no better time to discuss the impacts Mental Health can also have on your physical health and well-being, and what we can do as Allied Health Professionals to help you.

One in five Australian’s are affected by mental illness annually, and this year especially mental health illness has increased in direct relation to COVID-19, increasing anxiety and uncertainty in the general population.

We know stress and anxiety can play a large role in increasing chronic pain symptoms, decreasing physical activity, and reduce social capabilities. So what can your Physiotherapist do for you to help?

Your physiotherapist is there for YOU, and their main role is to help you improve whatever ailments you may be experiencing. This means we will listen to any issues you are having, and how they are impacting you in your daily life. Our sessions are tailored around you and your specific goals, and by listening we can develop understanding and compassion, which will help us work together more effectively towards achieving your goals.

1. Set realistic, measurable and achievable goals. Setting goals can be tricky! Sometimes we feel like we can’t achieve anything, and even the thought of attempting to achieve something is fatiguing. Your physiotherapist can help you to identify short term, achievable goals that aren’t taxing on your mental health. Over time, these goals will become easier and we can then help you to set medium- and long-term goals that you may never have thought possible. The key is, start small and build!

2.Complete desensitisation exercises. Desensitisation is a type of therapy that introduces painful stimuli to an affected area by graded exposure. With correct application and time, it can be an effective way to inhibit or interrupt the body’s interpretation of pain, and therefore it can reduce your pain significantly. Your physiotherapist is trained to guide you through these exercises for an optimal outcome.

3. Educate. Our role as physiotherapists is ever changing and developing due to constant new research and updating our best evidenced based practice. This means that not only are we continuing to educate ourselves as professionals to bring you the best treatment, we are also able to educate you to understand what you are going through, how you can help yourself improve your mental health and mood, and educate you on ways you can increase your independence in the home and the community. With increased understanding, you are more likely to want to achieve your goals of therapy to help yourself improve.

4. Exercise! Our favourite type of therapy. Not only do we know that exercise increases our happy endorphins, which stay dormant when we are stressed, anxious or depressed, it also has the ability to boost your self-confidence, independence and sense of control. All of this together can make for increased enjoyment, both physically and emotionally increasing your overall happiness 😊 Your physiotherapist can help you to find an exercise that is enjoyable and individualised to you, and design a program that can easily be completed at home on days between therapy sessions.

These are just some of the ways in which your Physiotherapist or Allied Health Professional can help you with any mental health concerns. The first step is reaching out to your Support Coordinator, Support Worker, friends, family or Case Manager and getting in touch with our Admin Team to book an initial consultation. And the best part is, we come to you!

DISCLAIMER: This is advice only and not to replace medical recommendations. If you or someone you know needs help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14


Written by Physiotherapist Lexi Ironside

Following her passion for helping others achieve their optimal quality of life, Lexi completed her Doctor of Physiotherapy at Bond University in early 2016. In the years since she has gained experience across a wide variety of hospital wards including inpatient and outpatient orthopaedics, cardiac and pain management programs, and surgical rehabilitation.

Lexi has made the transition to Community Care to help engage her clients and create lifelong health benefits through individualised treatment plans that provide lasting independence in the home.

Lexi is available for in-home appointments.