Active8: Promoting health beyond the absence of mental illness


  • Physical health, wellbeing and AOD

This study aims to build the evidence base for the effectiveness of Peer Health Coaching in supporting people living with mental health difficulties to make and sustain health behavior changes.

Who is involved

Neami National and University of Wollongong

Project status



We sought to understand and develop the critical elements of a program designed to promote physical health for people living with or experiencing mental illness.


The study used a most significant change approach. Participants provided personal accounts of change, and these were analysed in a workshop with a range of stakeholders involved in program design and delivery. Core themes were identified to inform the development of the program.


The program is delivered by a community managed organisation in the South Eastern Illawarra region of New South Wales and the study took place in this setting.


Participants included people who had accessed the Active8 program, staff who delivered the program, referrers and the funder of the program.

Main outcome measures

Participants were invited to share stories of how the Active8 program had impacted them or the people they were supporting.


Five key themes were identified as being critical to program success and development: (a) the right start at the right time; (b) a program that fits me; (c) health literacy leads to agency, action and change; (d) a chance to explore and establish healthy connections; and (e) change requires time, focus and ongoing support.


Approaches that steer away from simple advice giving and towards empowering and motivating people in line with their individual needs, aspirations and social context show potential for enhancing health-behaviour change.


Active8: Promoting health beyond the absence of mental illness
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Keren Wolstencroft

Keren’s (she/her) present role in the Research & Evaluation team is primarily centred around supporting the development and implementation of Neami’s approach to practice (Collaborative Relational Practice).
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Dr. Priscilla Ennals

Priscilla (she/her) has worked in the role of Senior Manager of Research and Evaluation at Neami National since 2016.
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Cristal Hall

Cristal is a Research and Design Coordinator.
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