My name is Matthew Fluder I created Walking towards Wellness as a unified response to improving physical health for our Wellways consumers. I have studied public health extensively and it’s a great passion to work towards helping others live a good life. I am very proud to work at Wellways on projects that make such a big impact. Being a consumer, myself growing up, I realised the lack of holistic services and programs for people who may not be able to afford expert health care. Walking towards Wellness is my gift back to the community.
Title: Walking towards Wellness – peer lead physical health and wellbeing program
Author(s): Matthew Fluder
Introduction: Walking towards Wellness is a co-designed six-week peer-led program supporting people with mental health challenges to make physical health goals sustainable and actionable in everyday life. The program, led by lived experience and informed by evidence, is accessible and straightforward. A pilot program has seen positive feedback from attendees and change in physical wellbeing behaviour.
Method: Walking towards Wellness leverages evidence-informed techniques found in behaviour change and mental health recovery research. Peer-facilitated, Walking towards Wellness is based on Wellways peer work principles, focussing on hope and recovery rather than illness and equal relationships built on shared experiences. Developed within the CHIME framework for personal recovery, Connectedness, Hope, Identity, Meaning and Empowerment are foundational for participants to move through Stages of Change. Facilitators create inclusive discussion to help participants articulate their vision for a good life, positive self-efficacy to help people believe they can make change, motivational interviewing to support changes in behaviour, and resilience planning to maintain changes over time.
Results & Findings: The pilot commenced with six participants of Wellways’ Community Living Supports Program and concluded with five. On a 4-point Likert Scale for physical health learning outcomes participants saw a 92% positive improvement in physical health literacy over the course of the program. On a 4-point Likert Scale developed by Schwarzer and Renner (1992), participants showed a 45% increase in positive physical self-efficacy. All participants continued exercise and reported positive health seeking behaviours six weeks after program completion.
Discussion: Wellways is collaborating with NSW Health Illawarra and NSW Shellharbour inpatient unit to run Walking towards Wellness and gather data on positive behaviour changes relating to physical health within a non-clinical peer-facilitated health and wellbeing program. Understanding the connection between physical and mental health wellbeing and addressing collectively through programs like Walking towards Wellness is a Wellways priority.