Everton in the Community has become a European project partner for SPHERE, a new project co-funded by the European Union through the Erasmus+ Sport - Collaborative Partnerships programme, that explores the use of sports as a means of recovery for psychiatric patients.
SPHERE will see EitC join other prestigious European organisations such as:
- Technical University of Munich (Germany)
- European Culture and Sport Organization (Italy)
- Rijeka Sports Association for Persons with Disabilities (Croatia)
- Finnish Sport Federation Tampere Region (Finland)
- European Platform for Sport Innovation (Belgium)
- Cardiff Metropolitan University (UK)
These organisations will come together to share best practice and collate research to enable them to identify the most suitable sport for patients with different diagnoses and backgrounds in order to improve their psychophysical well-being.
The project is targeted at all people with mental health problems (such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) in order to improve their quality of life, health and well-being, and protect their rights, dignity and inclusion through the creation of therapeutic programs able to combine physical activity and sport together with psychiatric rehabilitation.
Over the past few decades, several scientific studies have shown how sport and physical activity act as a real therapy – almost complementary to psychiatric drugs - and plays an important role in preventing mental illness.
Sports and physical activity, and their associated training methods, are very similar to the psychiatric rehabilitation because they include many therapeutic values: they are easily accessible, stimulate self-esteem and self-awareness, help to build confidence and a sense of belonging, and encourages socialisation, belonging to a group and enhancing social confidence.
The project follows the Council Recommendations on HEPA and the EU Physical Activity Guidelines, especially regarding the cross-sectoral and collaborative approach, since it involves public and private organisations from different sectors such as Sport, Health and Education in order to create effective synergies aimed at promoting physical activity for psychiatric patients.
Moreover, SPHERE is in line with the priority areas of the EU-Compass for Action on Mental Health and Wellbeing and with the actions highlighted by the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020, especially in making services accessible to people with disabilities, tackling discrimination and social exclusion, and promoting equal opportunities and quality community-based services.
EitC will host a research-led symposium providing the opportunity to showcase the outcomes of the project. Everton in the Community’s Health and Wellbeing Manager Johnnie Garside recently visited Rome to attend the official launch of the programme where a project activity plan was developed and said:
“To see the pioneering mental health work of EitC shared across Europe to help push the agenda of physical activity being used to support mental health and promote recovery is something we are very proud of and look forward to working with like-minded partners.”