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Active and healthy: a ten year group history designed to support relapse prevention for older people suffering with anxiety and/or depression

John Charles Cole (Central Coast Local Health District, Gosford, NSW Australia)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 4 February 2021

Issue publication date: 8 June 2021




The purpose of this project was to determine if consumers of Older People’s Mental Health (OPMH) recovering from depression and/or anxiety would benefit, in terms of a reduction in symptomatology and an increase in overall quality of life, from a group program approach.


The Active & Healthy Group Program was developed drawing on evidenced-based psycho-education, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and research on the effects of diet and activity on well-being. The program consists of six weekly sessions, each consisting of 50 min of psycho-education followed by physical and social activity of similar duration. Pre-and post-testing was undertaken using the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Kessler 10 (K10) and European Health Interview Survey-Quality of Life-8 Item Index. In addition, participants completed a qualitative post-group survey focussing on their evaluation of the group, strengths and suggested improvements. The pre- and post-group measures were subjected to statistical analysis.


According to pre- and post-test measures, the majority of group participants showed significant reductions in depressive symptoms and psychological distress (GDS and K10). This aligned with an overall increase in measures of quality of life (WHO QOL 8).


This paper contributes to the emerging evidence that older people are often open to education and change, given a friendly non-confrontational environment where evidence is presented that challenges the negative stereotypes so often put forward about old age. Given the nature of the outcomes, Active & Healthy, perhaps, has the potential to impact on service transformation to incorporate group work of this type as a valuable adjunct to core service provision.



The author would like to thank the following people for their invaluable help and support with this group project: Patrick Livermore, Julie Hunt, Helen Cole, Manami Brisebois, Sabrina Cole and Lisa McEvoy.


Cole, J.C. (2021), "Active and healthy: a ten year group history designed to support relapse prevention for older people suffering with anxiety and/or depression", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 134-145.



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