Sport scheme to help those with mental health problems

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A sport scheme to the value of £2m will be introduced to improve the lives of those suffering with mental health problems.

The scheme will be managed by the charity, Mind, with funding coming from Sport England and is set to help around 75000 people.

It will be offered as an incentive to take up a new activity, attend the gym or join a sports club.

The scheme is due to be launched in eight areas across England during next year. Funding of £1.5m from National Lottery funding has been offered by Sport England and £514000 has been raised by Mind.

According to the chief executive of Mind, Paul Farmer, structured physical activity is vital in recovery. He said mental health itself often creates huge obstacles which prevent people from taking up sport. This results in feelings of exhaustion, claustrophobia and diminished self-confidence which could appear insurmountable when one is facing a mental health problem.

People who have lived through these experiences will be involved in the project, which has been made possible by Sport England. Mr Farmer said these people’s insight will help in the provision of sports programmes which are designed to overcome the common barriers faced by so many people. This will result in up to 75000 people gaining access to sport to aid in their recover and continued health.

Clarke Carlisle, an ex-footballer, who has suffered from depression, hopes that the project will provide people with the confidence to start and enjoy sport, and include it in their lives in a bid to help with their mental well-being.

The target is for around 25000 people to receive help during the first 15 months of the project. During this time, providers and sports coaches will receive training to aid them in understanding the challenges which are faced by the sufferers.

The executive director community sport of Sport England, Mike Diaper, said there is evidence that physical activity and participation in sport influences mental wellbeing and mental illness in a positive manner. He said it includes the reduction of the effect of stress, and the enhancement of self-esteem and daily moods.

He stated their confidence that the programme will benefit those who participate in it as sport is able to improve the lives of people.

Helen Grant, the sports minister, said the programme will help those struggling with mental health problems as they will be able to use sport as a form of release and this will put them on the path to recovery.

Image Credit: Rae Slater

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