Section: Overview
Key publications
Research funding
Supervising & teaching

Key details

Areas of expertise

  • Mental health
  • Clinical trials
  • Physical activity
  • Lifestyle interventions

Available to supervise research students

Available for media queries

About Alex Parker

Alexandra (Alex) is the Executive Director, Institute for Health & Sport and a professor of Physical Activity and Mental Health in the Institute, one of two flagship research institutes at Victoria University. The Institute has 115 research staff and 250 PhD students.

Alex leads a multidisciplinary research group that aims to measure, understand, and promote physical activity to optimise mental wellbeing and prevent and treat mental illness. Her research aims to maximise the potential of physical activity in achieving better clinical outcomes, improved functioning and wellbeing in those at risk of, or experiencing, mental health problems. Alex's research group receives support from national and international funding bodies and industry partners.

Her major research interests are:

  • investigating the effectiveness of physical activity, behavioural and lifestyle interventions for the prevention and treatment of mental disorders
  • translating research findings into practice through workforce development and implementation studies
  • the mental health and wellbeing of elite athletes.

Through her partnerships with the key youth mental health organisations of Orygen and headspace, major career achievements include: i) the translation of her clinical research into new service delivery platforms, both face to face and digital, that now reach thousands of young people across Australia and have demonstrated impact with benefits to their mental health and social functioning; and ii) the development and validation of a measure of athlete psychological distress, that is now included within the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Sport Mental Health Assessment Tool (SMHAT-1).

Alex is also a practising clinical psychologist specialising in youth mental health.


  • PhD, University of Melbourne, Australia, 2007
  • MPsych (Clin), University of Melbourne, Australia, 2007
  • BA (Hons, Psych), University of Melbourne, Australia, 2007

Key publications

Year Citation
2023 Patten, R. K., Bourke, M., McIlvenna, L. C., Moreno-Asso, A., Woessner, M. N., Stepto, N. K., & Parker, A. (230101). Longitudinal affective response to high-intensity interval training and moderate-intensity continuous training in overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomised trial. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 64

doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2022.102325

2022 Patten, R. K., Tacey, A., Pile, R., Parker, A., De, Gori., Tran, P., McKenna, M. J., Lane, R., Apostolopoulos, V., & Said, C. M. (221201). Digital self-management interventions for osteoarthritis: a systematic scoping review of intervention characteristics, adherence and attrition. Archives of Public Health, 80(1),

doi: 10.1186/s13690-022-00854-x

2022 Pascoe, M., Pankowiak, A., Woessner, M., Brockett, C. L., Hanlon, C., Spaaij, R., Robertson, S., McLachlan, F., & Parker, A. (221011). Gender-specific psychosocial stressors influencing mental health among women elite and semielite athletes: a narrative review. BRITISH JOURNAL OF SPORTS MEDICINE,

doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2022-105540

2022 Dash, S., Bourke, M., Parker, A. G., Trott, E., & Pascoe, M. C. (220901). Mindfulness is associated with reduced barriers to exercise via decreasing psychological distress in help-seeking young adults: A cross-sectional brief report. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 16(9), (1049-1054).

doi: 10.1111/eip.13249

2022 Berger, M., Li, E., Rice, S., Davey, C. G., Ratheesh, A., Adams, S., Jackson, H., Hetrick, S., Parker, A., & Spelman, T. (220803). Cannabidiol for Treatment-Resistant Anxiety Disorders in Young People: An Open-Label Trial. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 83(5),

doi: 10.4088/JCP.21m14130

2022 Cotton, S. M., Hamilton, M. P., Filia, K., Menssink, J. M., Engel, L., Mihalopoulos, C., Rickwood, D., Hetrick, S. E., Parker, A. G., & Herrman, H. (220720). Heterogeneity of quality of life in young people attending primary mental health services. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, 31

doi: 10.1017/S2045796022000427

2022 Dash, S., Bourke, M., Parker, A. G., Dadswell, K., & Pascoe, M. C. (220701). Lifestyle behaviours and mental health and wellbeing of tertiary students during COVID-19 lockdown in Australia: A cross-sectional study. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 116

doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2022.152324

2022 Parker, A. G., Trott, E., Bourke, M., Klepac, Pogrmilovic., Dadswell, K., Craike, M., McLean, S. A., Dash, S., & Pascoe, M. (220501). Young people's attitudes towards integrating physical activity as part of mental health treatment: A cross-sectional study in youth mental health services. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 16(5), (518-526).

doi: 10.1111/eip.13189

2022 Allott, K., Gao, C. X., Fisher, C., Hetrick, S. E., Filia, K. M., Menssink, J. M., Herrman, H. E., Rickwood, D. J., Parker, A. G., & McGorry, P. D. (220501). The Neuropsychological Symptoms Self-Report: psychometric properties in an adolescent and young adult mental health cohort. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 27(2), (111-121).

doi: 10.1111/camh.12473

2022 Patten, R. K., McIlvenna, L. C., Levinger, I., Garnham, A. P., Shorakae, S., Parker, A. G., McAinch, A. J., Rodgers, R. J., Hiam, D., & Moreno-Asso, A. (220501). High-intensity training elicits greater improvements in cardio-metabolic and reproductive outcomes than moderate-intensity training in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. Human Reproduction, 37(5), (1018-1029).

doi: 10.1093/humrep/deac047

Research funding for the past 5 years

Please note:

  • Funding is ordered by the year the project commenced and may continue over several years.
  • Funding amounts for contact research are not disclosed to maintain commercial confidentiality.
  • The order of investigators is not indicative of the role they played in the research project.

Prioritising Teachers’ and Leaders’ mental health and wellbeing self-care in and beyond COVID challenges to improve teacher/leader resilience and retention and better model health and wellbeing self-care strategies for students
From: Department of Education, Skills and Employment (Australia)
Other investigators: Aspr Loretta Konjarski, Dr Claire Brown
For period: 2022-2023

Improving Care for Patients on a Waiting List for Orthopaedic Specialist Public Health Services in Melbourne’s West (Waitlist Project)
From: Victorian Higher Education Strategic Investment Fund
Other investigators: Prof Itamar Levinger, Prof Michael Mckenna, Prof Vasso Apostolopoulos, Prof Rebecca Lane, Miss Mary Woessner, Dr Michaela Pascoe
For period: 2021-2022

eHealth for Mental Health in DCD
From: The Waterloo Foundation
Other investigators: Dr Jacqueline Williams, Dr Michaela Pascoe
For period: 2020-2022
A Parent-Targeted eHealth Intervention to Use Exercise to Reduce Symptoms of Poor Mental Health in Children with Developmental Coordination Disorder
From: The Waterloo Foundation
Other investigators: Dr Peter Baldwin, Dr Michaela Pascoe, Dr Jacqueline Williams
For period: 2020-2021
Implementing High-Intensity Interval Training for Young Adolescents in School
From: The Health Research Council of New Zealand
For period: 2020-2023
Feasibility Study of a Brief, Nuse-Led Behaviour Change Intervention to Increase Physical Activity for Prostate Cancer Survivors Living in Disadvantaged Communities
From: World Cancer Research Fund International
Other investigators: Prof Melinda Craike
For period: 2020-2021

WIRED: Web-Based Interventions for Reducing Eating Disorders
From: NHMRC - Projects
Other investigators: Aspr Karen (zali) Yager
For period: 2019-2022
Headspace 'Decks' (Interactive Self-directed and Automated Intervention Options): Development of Content and Evaluation Framework
From: Headspace - National Youth Mental Health Foundation Ltd
Other investigators: Prof Melinda Craike
For period: 2019-2020
Not disclosed
Factors that Influence Wellbeing and Life Satisfaction Beyond Elite Athletes' Sporting Careers: Identification and Prediction of Positive Retirement Outcomes
From: Australian Institute of Sport
Other investigators: Aspr Camilla Brockett, Dr Michaela Pascoe
For period: 2019-2019
Not disclosed

readyforwhatsnext: VicHealth Innovation Project on Identifying Optimal Strategies for Developing the Resilience of Young Victorians.
From: VicHealth Innovation Grants
For period: 2017-2019
Not disclosed

Physical Activity for Young People With Depression: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial to Test the Effectiveness of Incorporating a Brief Intervention into Routine Clinical Care
From: The University of Melbourne
For period: 2014-2019


Many thanks to the following organisations for their support and essential contributions to my research:

  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

    Parker AG, Jorm A, MacKinnon A, et al. Physical activity for young people with depression: A cluster randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of incorporating a brief intervention into routine clinical care. NHMRC Project Grant; 2013 ($1,613,136.40)

Supervision of research students at VU

Available to supervise research students

Available for media queries

Currently supervised research students at VU

No. of students Study level Role
1 PhD Principal supervisor
1 PhD Associate supervisor

Currently supervised research students at VU

Students & level Role
PhD (1) Principal supervisor
PhD (1) Associate supervisor

Completed supervision of research students at VU

No. of students Study level Role
1 PhD by Publication Associate supervisor
2 PhD Associate supervisor

Completed supervision of research students at VU

Students & level Role
PhD by Publication (1) Associate supervisor
PhD (2) Associate supervisor

Professional memberships

  • Registered psychologist - clinical endorsement, Psychology Board of Australia