What is physiotherapy in mental health?

Physiotherapy is designed to “help people with mental illness use physical approaches to improve their health” (Chartered Society of Physiotherapists 2002). All physiotherapists are registered and have undergone training at Graduate Diploma, Degree (BSc) or Masters Degree (MSc) level.

How can physiotherapy help?

The aim of physiotherapy is to

  • help individuals to maximise their full potential, by improving physical function and independence, as well as their psychological and social wellbeing
  • promote and empower individuals to be as independent as possible
  • educate patients and their carers on how to manage specific problems
  • help identify if changes in the patients mental health or behaviour have a physical cause.


Specialist mental health physiotherapists can help with the following:

Falls and balance problems – Supporting and guiding anyone who has had multiple falls, anyone who is immobile but attempts to stand and those at risk of falling or with a fear of falling.

Poor mobility - Carrying out mobility assessments, walking aid assessments and offering exercise advice and guidance.

Musculoskeletal problems - Supporting people with problems such as arthritis/joint pain, muscle/tendon injuries, fractures, back/neck problems and muscle weakness to improve their mobility function.

Neurological problems - Supporting people with problems after a stroke or as a result of illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis.

Respiratory problems - Helping those living with respiratory illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or temporary conditions like chest infections to implement effective breathing techniques, master inhalers or collect sputum samples.

Pain management - Offering guidance and advice, including non-pharmacological interventions and referral to specialist services if required.

Posture management - Helping people to improve postural problems, including carrying out specialist seating assessments to aid comfort, support and improved posture.

Exercise, health promotion and wellbeing - Support in managing health and wellbeing, from breathing and mindfulness techniques to help those with depression and anxiety, to weight management support and exercise advice.


Physiotherapy also provides a range of other services including:

• alternative therapies
• acupuncture
• abdominal massage (for constipation).


Assessment and treatment

Your initial contact with the physiotherapy team will involve an assessment to determine the level of your ability and what needs you may have. A plan of action called an ‘intervention plan’ will be created and agreed with you / your carer / family to address your individual needs. Further treatment may then be carried out by a physiotherapy team member in accordance with your plan(s).

Physiotherapy can take place on the in-patient wards, clinics or at home, depending on individual needs and circumstances.


Referral to the specialist physiotherapy services can be through any of the following people

  • Consultant psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Mental health nurses
  • Occupational therapists
  • Social workers
  • Speech and language practitioners
  • Dieticians
  • Advanced practitioners
  • Nurse consultants
  • Ward team members

Should you require further information please speak to a member of your care team.


Leaflet reference:
Date last updated:
07 / 07 / 2016
Archive date:
07 / 07 / 2019
Information for service users, families, carers and supporters