Sport scheme to boost mental health

Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Sport is to be used in a £2 million programme to try and help 75,000 people suffering from mental health problems.

Help to join mainstream sports clubs, go to the gym or take up a new sport is to be offered to people suffering from various conditions – such as depression and anxiety. Support groups, taster sessions and events to help people make sport part of their everyday lives will also be available under the project, which is to be run by the mental health charity Mind.

It is to be launched in eight areas across England next year using £1.5 million of National Lottery funding from Sport England.

Paul Farmer, the chief executive of Mind, which raised a further £514,000 towards the project, pointed out that structured physical activity can play “a key role” in recovery.

He said: “Mental ill health in itself can create significant obstacles that prevent people from taking up sport in the first place. Feelings of low self-confidence, exhaustion or fear of crowded spaces can seem insurmountable when facing a mental health problem.

“People with lived experience will be at the heart this project, that’s been made possible thanks to Sport England. Their insight will help us to provide bespoke sports programmes that are designed to overcome the common barriers faced by so many of us, in turn helping up to 75,000 people access sport as part of their recovery and ongoing health.”

Ex-footballer Clarke Carlisle who has suffered from depression, hoped the project “will give people the confidence to take up, and enjoy, sport – and build it into their lives, which will help their mental wellbeing.”

The target is for an estimated 25,000 people to be helped in the first 15 months of the project during which sports coaches and providers will get training to help them understand the challenges faced by sufferers.

Mike Diaper, Sport England’s Executive Director Community Sport, said: “There is compelling evidence that participation in sport and physical activity has a positive influence on mental wellbeing and mental illness. This includes enhancing day-to-day moods, reducing the impact of stress and enhancing self-esteem.

“Sport has the power to improve lives in many ways and we’re confident that this programme will really benefit the people who take part in it.”

Sports minister Helen Grant said the programme will “help people struggling with mental health problems use sport as a release and help put them on the road to recovery”.

Published: Sunday 19th October 2014 by The News Editor

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