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 is the Chief Investigator on a NHMRC project grant multi-site cluster-RCT (2014-2019), examining the effectiveness of integrating a brief physical activity behaviour change intervention into routine clinical care for young people with depression. She has internationally pioneered this type of intervention in young people with high prevalence mental disorders. She currently leads the development of the Behavioural and Lifestyle Medicine for Mental Disorder research consortium within Victoria University’s research school.

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; and the mental health and wellbeing of elite athletes.

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
2021 Carter, T., Pascoe, M., Bastounis, A., Morres, I. D., Callaghan, P., & Parker, A. G. (210415). The effect of physical activity on anxiety in children and young people: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 285 (10-21).

doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2021.02.026

2021 Filia, K., Rickwood, D., Menssink, J., Gao, C. X., Hetrick, S., Parker, A., Hamilton, M., Hickie, I., Herrman, H., & Telford, N. (210101). Clinical and functional characteristics of a subsample of young people presenting for primary mental healthcare at headspace services across Australia. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology,

doi: 10.1007/s00127-020-02020-6

2021 Rosenbaum, S., McKeon, G., Stubbs, B., Teychenne, M., Parker, A., Stanton, R., Schuch, F., Mistry, A., Steel, Z., & Firth, J. (210101). Redefining mental healthcare: Going multidisciplinary to manage multimorbidity. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 55(1), (7-8).

doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2019-101691

2020 Rice, S. M., Parker, A. G., Mawren, D., Clifton, P., Harcourt, P., Lloyd, M., Kountouris, A., Smith, B., McGorry, P. D., & Purcell, R. (201101). Preliminary psychometric validation of a brief screening tool for athlete mental health among male elite athletes: the Athlete Psychological Strain Questionnaire. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 18(6), (850-865).

doi: 10.1080/1612197X.2019.1611900

2020 Perera, S., Hetrick, S., Cotton, S., Parker, A., Rickwood, D., Davenport, T., Hickie, I. B., Herrman, H., & McGorry, P. (200703). Awareness of headspace youth mental health service centres across Australian communities between 2008 and 2015. Journal of Mental Health, 29(4), (410-417).

doi: 10.1080/09638237.2019.1630718

2020 Pascoe, M. C., Bailey, A. P., Craike, M., Carter, T., Patten, R., Stepto, N. K., & Parker, A. G. (200504). Exercise interventions for mental disorders in young people: A scoping review. BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine, 6(1),

doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000678

2020 Hilland, T. A., Bourke, M., Wiesner, G., Garcia, Bengoechea., Parker, A. G., Pascoe, M., & Craike, M. (200501). Correlates of walking among disadvantaged groups: A systematic review. Health and Place, 63

doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2020.102337

2020 Pascoe, M., Bailey, A. P., Craike, M., Carter, T., Patten, R., Stepto, N., & Parker, A. (200123). Physical activity and exercise in youth mental health promotion: A scoping review. BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine, 6(1),

doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000677

2020 Pascoe, M. C., Hetrick, S. E., & Parker, A. G. (200102). The impact of stress on students in secondary school and higher education. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 25(1), (104-112).

doi: 10.1080/02673843.2019.1596823

2020 Pascoe, M. C., Bailey, A. P., Craike, M., Carter, T., Patten, R. K., Stepto, N. K., & Parker, A. G. (200101). Poor reporting of physical activity and exercise interventions in youth mental health trials: A brief report. Early Intervention in Psychiatry,

doi: 10.1111/eip.13045

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.

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: Aspr 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


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

Completed supervision of research students at VU

No. of students Study level Role
5 PhD Associate supervisor
2 PhD Principal Supervisor supervisor
1 PhD Integrated Principal Supervisor supervisor

Completed supervision of research students at VU

Students & level Role
PhD (5) Associate supervisor
PhD (2) Principal Supervisor supervisor
PhD Integrated (1) Principal Supervisor supervisor

Professional memberships

  • Registered psychologist - clinical endorsement, Psychology Board of Australia