As part of his course at King’s, Matt undertook a number of placements on different wards at St Charles Hospital, part of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust. All of the wards had gyms and open spaces such as gardens, however he found patients weren’t using them to their full potential, despite there being a wealth of evidence showing that regular physical activity is beneficial to improving mental health conditions.
Indeed, this is a global issue. Increasing mental health problems among young people, combined with unhealthy lifestyles and isolation mean that those with severe mental illness die 25 years younger. Patients in hospital may experience obesity as a side effect from medication, as well as lack of motivation to exercise.
This inspired him to set up Live More, a service providing daily supported exercise for hospital inpatients with severe mental illness. The aim of the service is to also make this a priority within NHS Trusts, and eventually create a programme that can be used in the community to ensure patients continue to exercise once they are discharged. The idea is that by working alongside GPs, community nursing teams and fitness instructors, regular exercise can become an important part of patient care in treating severe mental illness.