UNIVERSITY MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS PERCEPTIONS OF EXERCISE IS MEDICINE PRESCRIPTION AND REFERRAL
Bryce T. Daniels1 & Erin K. Howie1
1University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Studies show a rise in college students’ mental health needs as prevalence of diagnosed anxiety and depression has increased on college campuses. Consequently, yearly visits of students to college counseling centers have increased. Physical activity shows to have positive benefits for mental health. However, many counselors lack confidence to be able to prescribe physical activity. PURPOSE: To explore university mental health counselors’ perceptions of prescribing physical activity to patients and referring patients to a physical activity specialist. METHODS: Using a qualitative descriptive design, 14 certified counselors (13 females and 1 male, ages: 26-67), across 7 southern universities, participated in semi-structured virtual interviews. Questions were aligned with Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) constructs and inquired on individual (IF), environmental (EF), and behavioral (BF) factors related to prescribing physical activity to patients and counselors referring patients to a physical activity specialist. Thematic analysis was used to develop overarching themes and subthemes from the data. RESULTS: Counselors are open to prescribing physical activity and referring patients to a physical activity specialist. Though, prescribing specific physical activity would take more formal training. Question topics, themes, subthemes, and number of participants who reported the most prevalent subthemes are found in Table 1. CONCLUSION: Counselors iterated the convenience of referring patients to a trained physical activity specialist is currently more feasible than prescribing physical activity. Future studies should quantitatively investigate how effective referring patients to a physical activity specialist would be for improving patients’ physical activity and mental health.
Daniels, BT and Howie, EK
"UNIVERSITY MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS PERCEPTIONS OF EXERCISE IS MEDICINE PRESCRIPTION AND REFERRAL,"
International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: Vol. 11:
9, Article 29.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijesab/vol11/iss9/29