Investigating the connection between physical activity and mental health

December 14, 2016

Post-doctoral fellow Dr. Serene Kerpan
Post-doctoral fellow Dr. Serene Kerpan
Post-doctoral research fellow Dr. Serene Kerpan has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation to investigate the effect of physical activity on mental health in Indigenous youth in the province.

Acting as supervisors, SPHERU’s Dr. Sylvia Abonyi and Dr. Sarah Oosman will be working with Kerpan as she examines the association between a physical activity intervention and mental health for Indigenous elementary school youth in Whitecap Dakota First Nation.

Saskatchewan Indigenous youth are the fastest growing demographic in the province, however they also are disproportionately affected by mental health issues, including high rates of suicide.

According to studies with non-Indigenous youth, physical activity significantly reduces depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. By promoting cultural and traditional activities, such as hunting, fishing, hiking and dancing, these physical activities and an Indigenous worldview will be brought together to enhance mental health in Indigenous youth.

Kerpan plans to collaborate with community members, including youth, parents, leaders and Elders to design, implement and evaluate the intervention.

If the intervention is successful, scalability and adaptive approaches will be investigated to determine if this evidence-based strategy can be used to enhance the mental health of youth in other Indigenous communities.

For more information on the 2016-17 Research Fellowship:

Dr. Serene Kerpan, right, receives SHRF grant.
Dr. Serene Kerpan, right, receives SHRF grant.


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