Research projects

The acceptability and effectiveness of simple interventions in reducing mental health problems in help-seeking young people

Principal researchers

Dr Alexandra Parker 1, 2
Dr Sarah Hetrick 1, 2
Dr Rosie Purcell 1, 2
Prof Alison Yung 1, 2
Assoc Prof Daniel Lubman2
Prof Patrick McGorry2
Prof Tony Jorm2
Dr Bridget Moller 1, 2
Ms Shelley Baird 1, 2
Ms Jessica Stephens
Ms Faye Scanlan 1, 2
Prof Andrew MacKinnon2


Orygen Youth Health Research Centre
1 Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and headspace: The National Youth Mental Health Initiative
2 Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne



Award type

beyondblue grant

Project completion year


Project details

  • Young people who were help‐seeking for problems with depression and/or anxiety showed significant improvement in symptoms over the course of a 6 week intervention period.
  • Interventions were focused on skill‐building and engaging in physical activity and delivered in a factorial randomised controlled trial design.
  • Young people who received the physical activity intervention reported the greatest improvement in depression symptoms and this difference was clinically meaningful.
  • These significant results are for an innovative intervention that does not require physical activity to take place within session, but allows for a psychologist or allied health professional to apply a behavioural approach to encourage an increased engagement in physical activity in a young person’s life.
  • Any intervention that can address health risk behaviours in young people with mental health problems is of significance, given that only 1 in 4 young people in the general population meet the current guidelines for recommended activity levels.
  • In contrast, of the 346 young people seeking help for mental health problems screened for inclusion in the current study, only 6% were currently meeting the guidelines for physical activity.
  • The interventions were easy to deliver and acceptable to young people as indicated by the high attendance rates at the weekly sessions.

Download the final report here

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