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Physical activity interventions can confer a range of physical and mental health benefits among young people with mental disorders. In some contexts, such as Ireland, integrated physical activity is not easily available within child and adolescent mental health services. Therefore, an interagency pilot intervention was established in a child and adolescent mental health service in Ireland with the integration of a novel exercise practitioner into the multidisciplinary mental health team.
A qualitative evaluation was conducted to understand the impact of the pilot intervention and to understand issues of implementation that arose throughout.
In-depth qualitative interviews with service users’ parents/guardians (N = 3) and a single focus group with existing service providers (N = 3), framed by the RE-AIM framework were conducted to evaluate the pilot intervention. Data were analysed using thematic analysis to explore themes.
Three overarching themes were identified. These were as follows: (i) Making changes toward healthier physical activity behaviours; (ii) An intervention of therapeutic holism; and (iii) The integrated service delivery.
This research provides insight on the value of a novel integrated exercise practitioner in outpatient young persons’ mental health services in Ireland, indicating an enhanced and complimentary therapeutic service. These findings will be helpful for integrating Exercise Practitioners in this setting going forward.