Australian mental health practitioners’ reported practice, beliefs, and barriers to the prescription of dietary change for mental health conditions

Danielle Baxter, Geoff P. Lovell

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To investigate self-reported practice, beliefs, and barriers regarding prescription of dietary change for mental health from a range of mental health practitioners across Australia.

Method: An online survey was completed by 193 Australian mental health practitioners.

Results: Over 50% of practitioners reported prescribing dietary change for stress, depression, and anxiety at least weekly in their practice. Over half the practitioners considered dietary change to be 60-100% useful for enhancing mental health outcomes. Approximately one-quarter of the practitioners considered dietary change to be less than 40% useful for treating mental health conditions. Thematic analysis revealed the most frequently reported higher-order barrier themes were practitioner barriers (43.8%) and client barriers (29.2%), with insufficient skills and knowledge (15.9%) and client adherence (12.8%) being commonly cited initial codes.

Conclusion: Mental health practitioners in Australia prescribe dietary change for mental health. However, barriers to prescription of dietary change for mental health need be addressed to overcome challenges associated with using it as a therapeutic intervention for mental health conditions. Universities and university training accreditation bodies should consider providing more extensive instruction in psycho-nutrition as part of mental health practitioners’ training. Likewise, further recognised professional development should be offered, and awarded, for already qualified practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-255
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Volume56
Issue number3
Early online date25 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2021

Keywords

  • Australia
  • Mental health
  • depression
  • diet
  • dietary change
  • practitioner

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