2019 Round 3 Top 6 Finalist

Mood Active

Helping people experiencing mild to moderate depression or anxiety to get back on their feet through exercise.

Mood active have operated as a charity since 2013 and we run a free, 4 week small group psycho-educational and exercise program to help people get started and to sustain exercise, along with a more intensively supported 8 week program for those needing further support.

To date we have helped over 200 members of Sydney’s Central and Eastern Suburbs Primary Health district in their recovery from mental illness while also improving their physical health.

We track results and of those who have completed our programs, over 75% reported an improvement in one or more mental health measures (DASS) as well as improvements in the rate of exercise and/or fitness depending on the report. We have also had participants report that the psycho-educational element of our 4 week program helps them to build confidence and take greater ownership of their own mental health recovery, or symptom management as they discover the power of exercise.


Today, 1 in 5 adult Australians experience a mental illness in any one year, and obesity and sedentary behaviours are of significant concern with nearly 1 in 3 Australian adults doing insufficient physical activity (AIHW, 2016). All of this places greater strain on the community and health resources. Better education and more effective targeted exercise offerings that help people get off the couch are greatly needed.

What we do know at Mood Active after 6 years of experience specialising in this space, and existing global research, is that a basic gym membership does not work. People with mental illness require additional education, support and supervision particularly to get motivated to do exercise. This support is even more effective if it comes from those who are skilled or peer workers who understand what the person is going through and participants are in small groups.

Mood Active’s big dream is to find more partners that will assist in subsidising and expanding our programs throughout Sydney and then Australia so that tailored programs are accessible to all Australians. We also want to keep adapting our programs, measure our results and sharing these with GPs and others so that we can influence the prescription of exercise in Australia.


A Sunsuper Dreams for a Better World grant would help Mood Active run a 4 week wellbeing workout program and subsidise a post program casual class for the next 12 months.

The 4 week program consists of 4 x 3 hour sessions weekly and combines psycho-education and exercise to help participants to get started and to sustain exercise when they are struggling to get motivated. It covers the topics of getting started, building confidence, when the going gets tough and sustaining the habit. All techniques are based on clinical research in the field of psychology. We also measure progress through pre and post mood and exercise surveys.

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