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 Professor of Physical Activity and Mental Health in the Institute of Health and Sport. 

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
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

2019 Craike, M., Bourke, M., Hilland, T. A., Wiesner, G., Pascoe, M. C., Bengoechea, E. G., & Parker, A. G. (191101). Correlates of Physical Activity Among Disadvantaged Groups: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 57(5), (700-715).

doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2019.06.021

2019 Parker, A. G., Markulev, C., Rickwood, D. J., MacKinnon, A., Purcell, R., Alvarez-Jimenez, M., Yung, A. R., McGorry, P., Hetrick, S. E., & Jorm, A. (191001). Improving Mood with Physical ACTivity (IMPACT) trial: A cluster randomised controlled trial to determine the effectiveness of a brief physical activity behaviour change intervention on depressive symptoms in young people, compared with psychoeducation, in addition to routine clinical care within youth mental health services-a protocol study. BMJ Open, 9(10),

doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-034002

2019 Schley, C., Pace, N., Mann, R., McKenzie, C., McRoberts, A., & Parker, A. (191001). The headspace Brief Interventions Clinic: Increasing timely access to effective treatments for young people with early signs of mental health problems. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 13(5), (1073-1082).

doi: 10.1111/eip.12729

2019 Shrestha, N., Grgic, J., Wiesner, G., Parker, A., Podnar, H., Bennie, J. A., Biddle, S. JH., & Pedisic, Z. (191001). Effectiveness of interventions for reducing non-occupational sedentary behaviour in adults and older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British journal of sports medicine, 53(19), (1206-1213).

doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-098270

2019 Davey, C. G., Chanen, A. M., Hetrick, S. E., Cotton, S. M., Ratheesh, A., Amminger, G. P., Koutsogiannis, J., Phelan, M., Mullen, E., & Harrison, B. J. (190901). The addition of fluoxetine to cognitive behavioural therapy for youth depression (YoDA-C): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre clinical trial. The Lancet Psychiatry, 6(9), (735-744).

doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30215-9

2019 Pascoe, M. C., & Parker, A. G. (190801). Physical activity and exercise as a universal depression prevention in young people: A narrative review. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 13(4), (733-739).

doi: 10.1111/eip.12737

2019 Hiam, D., Patten, R., Gibson-Helm, M., Moreno-Asso, A., McIlvenna, L., Levinger, I., Harrison, C., Moran, L. J., Joham, A., & Parker, A. (190416). The effectiveness of high intensity intermittent training on metabolic, reproductive and mental health in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: Study protocol for the iHIT- randomised controlled trial. Trials, 20(1),

doi: 10.1186/s13063-019-3313-8

2019 Craike, M., Britt, H., Parker, A., & Harrison, C. (190401). General practitioner referrals to exercise physiologists during routine practice: A prospective study. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 22(4), (478-483).

doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2018.10.005

2019 Rice, S. M., Parker, A. G., Mawren, D., Clifton, P., Harcourt, P., Lloyd, M., Kountouris, A., Smith, B., McGorry, P. D., & Purcell, R. (190101). 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,

doi: 10.1080/1612197X.2019.1611900

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
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
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
4 PhD Associate supervisor
1 PhD Principal supervisor

Currently supervised research students at VU

Students & level Role
PhD (4) Associate supervisor
PhD (1) Principal supervisor

Professional memberships

  • Registered psychologist - clinical endorsement, Psychology Board of Australia