Patients with Severe Mental Illness (SMI; e.g., schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder) not only experience significant disruption to daily functioning from psychological symptoms, but also are more likely to experience cascading detrimental physical health outcomes (Robson & Gray, 2007). This may partially account for why, compared to a healthy population, SMI patients are at increased risk of health comorbidities, suicidal ideations and earlier mortality (Bartels et al., 2015). An SMI diagnosis in adolescence also increases the risk of repeated SMI, and thus the likelihood of comorbidity development. On this basis, it is imperative to identify and implement preventative approaches early to assist health trajectories in adolescents affected by SMI. This thesis examines the potential benefit of structured exercise on psychological and physiological health in adolescents receiving SMI treatment.
Collectively, thesis findings demonstrate the potential health benefits, and feasibility for particular patients, from structured exercise programming when implemented alongside normative adolescent psychiatric treatment. To help improve health and well-being indices in adolescent SMI patients, it is worthy to not only address psychological symptoms and functioning, but also physiological and anthropometric factors. Given the favourable responses in most adolescent SMI patients examined, successful integration of a SIT protocol into a ‘high-need’ population and setting suggests potential for wider implementation in routine psychiatric care. Nevertheless, careful determination of patient appropriateness, management and adjustment of SIT protocols remains necessary to achieve maximal benefits.