Mental Health & Exercise Research Group

The role of exercise in the treatment and management of mental health and illness


Broadly, this research group is exploring the role of exercise in the management of physical and mental health outcomes for those living with, or at risk of, mental ill health. Whilst exercise is broadly acknowledged as beneficial and therapeutic for patients across multiple domains, an understanding of how best to facilitate outcomes, support individuals and embed exercise within care pathways is yet to be established.

Furthermore, the mechanisms by which exercise impacts outcomes across varied disorders and settings is yet to be established.

Specific projects include projects/populations include substance use disorders and addiction rehabilitation services; severe mental illnesses in inpatients and community healthcare services; supporting the mental wellbeing of tertiary students; mental health of at-risk children and young people; and understanding the role of exercise in psychological workplace injury.

Current projects include:

  • Move your mind: exercise to support the physical and mental health outcomes of individuals living with severe mental illness
  • Exercise and substance use disorders In youth
  • The 'Thriving' seafarer
  • The co-design and pilot of a sport-based mental health intervention for children at risk of mental illness
  • Stride: An on-campus referral-based exercise program from students with mental health problems
  • Exercise and gender diversity in youth
  • The role of exercise in psychological workplace injury

Current PhD students:

  • Ivan Jeftic
  • Aaron Simpson
  • Sally Edmondson
  • Ben Kramer
  • Tony Ton
  • Caleb McMahen
  • Anna Hilyard

As part of these projects the successful PhD applicant may:

  • Investigate the role of exercise in the management of physical and mental health outcomes in individuals with common and severe mental illness (in various settings)
  • Establish evidence-based practices for the promotion and delivery of exercise programs for mental health/illness in varied settings (e.g. community health care, hospitals, universities, workplace rehabilitation)
  • Develop innovative strategies and programs to support the health and wellbeing outcomes of individuals at risk of, or living with mental illness

Suggested readings


Research team leaders:

Dr Bonnie Furzer – Accredited Exercise Physiologist

  • Senior Lecturer and Course Coordinator - UWA Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology (School of Human Sciences)
  • Director - UWA Exercise and Performance Centre
  • Director - Thriving Exercise Rehabilitation Inc.
  • Senior Exercise Physiologist - Fremantle Hospital Mental Health Service

Associate Professor Ben Jackson

  • Research focus area Head, Brain and Behaviour
  • Co-Director - Psychology of Active, Healthy Living Group
  • Associate Professor - UWA School of Human Sciences

Dr Kemi Wright PhD

  • Early Career Researcher and Senior Exercise Physiologist - Fremantle Hospital Mental Health Service
  • Director - Thriving Exercise Rehabilitation Inc.

Dr Tim Budden

  • Associate Lecturer and Early Career Researcher - UWA School of Human Sciences



Funding and Collaborations

External Collaborators:



How to Apply

Check criteria
  • To be accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy, an applicant must demonstrate they have sufficient background experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete, and provide evidence of English language proficiency
  • Requirements specific to this project:
    • Highly desired: Allied health training with relevance to working in the area of mental health (e.g. exercise physiologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, clinical psychologist)
Submit enquiry to research team leader
  • Contact the research team leader by submitting an Expression of Interest form via the button below
  • After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, contact [email protected] to proceed with your application


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.