Working Together to Optimise Mental Health Outcomes

It’s no surprise that working with the mental health cohort has its challenges at times. As much as we wish it were all smooth sailing, the road to recovery can be a convoluted one! It’s times like these that having strong working relationships with other health professionals has the most impact. 

Our Christchurch-based Exercise Physiologist Carmyn has nailed the ‘strong working relationships’ part! Last week we spoke about the Psychologist + EP collaboration, and this article is the perfect follow-up to that. So today, instead of a ‘client success story’, this one is a ‘collaboration success story’ – all about the beauty of two health professionals working seamlessly together on a mental health file.


A Perfect Example of an EP / Psych Collab

When things plateau, as they sometimes do, there’s nothing better than bringing heads together to come up with a new approach.

Carmyn set herself up for success from day 1 by making contact with the psychologist in the initial weeks of the program. It was just a gentle touch point to say hi, but as we all know – it takes familiarity to create trust, and it is trust that creates relationships.

A simple message to say hi opened the doors for communication throughout the program. They kept each other in the loop with any progress made or obstacles encountered, and Carmyn included her in her fortnightly updates to the insurer. This relationship-building paid off! When she felt like she had hit a wall with progress, Carmyn was able to set up a phone or Zoom call with the psychologist so that they could brainstorm together. 

While they were chatting, a couple of words caught Carmyn’s attention… This client experienced anxiety, the symptoms of which are consistent with the fight or flight response – increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, sweating palms, racing thoughts…

HRV mental health

An indication of increased sympathetic nervous system activity. Which, of course, reflects dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system. Something that we talk a lot about in the context of heart rate variability… So Carmyn thought, why not give heart rate variability monitoring a go? 

Using heart rate variability is a reasonably new approach in the context of mental health conditions – but something that we are keen to jump on board of! Carmyn explained our approach to HRV, and how we use it in our chronic fatigue clients. It was through these conversations with the psych that the ‘seed of thought’ was planted – reminding us yet again of just how valuable these regular communications can be!

The exercise physiology program is still in progress – but for today’s Win, it’s not about the client. This Win is a shout-out to the communicative psychologist who made collaborating easy. The Win is in the magic of two heads coming together to strategise, and find new and creative solutions.

So just like we mentioned in last week’s article, if you are a psychologist and have a client who is also working with an Exercise Physiologist – don’t be a stranger! “Teamwork makes the dream work” after all. 


Author: Yolanda van Vugt 
Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Content Creator at Specialised Health


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