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Empowering People with Mental Health Problems Through Physical Activity

A new report presents the findings from an exploratory DRILL funded study of a physical activity intervention for people with severe and enduring mental health problems. The study employed a co-production approach between people with lived experience of mental health problems, Mental Health Foundation, Queen’s University Belfast, Praxis Care, Platinum Training Institute, Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke and the Northern, South Eastern and Western Recovery Colleges. The study aimed to: 

  • Increase knowledge about what works to engage people with severe and enduring mental health problems in sustained physical activity to a level that is improving and protecting their physical health 
  • Identify the facilitators and opportunities that help engage and empower people with severe mental health problems in physical activity and 
  • Explore the current barriers to physical activity 

Trained co-researchers (with lived experience of mental health problems) worked on the project at all stages, from informing programme design to interviewing participants and conducting the data analysis to disseminating the findings. Quantitative data was also collected on the health and lifestyles of participants and qualitative interviews and focus groups were used to explore the barriers and facilitators to physical activity and the impact of the programme that we developed 

The study found that physical activity can have benefits for people’s physical and mental health and plays an important role in the social aspect of people’s lives. People with mental health problems care about their physical health and by providing the right kind of help, can be supported and encouraged to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.

Further information on this study