Due to four key reasons these procedures are currently in nil to low:
The stigma is still associated with current procedures and therapeutic intervention courses and the mental patients themselves.
The lack of widespread documentation of the importance and effects of sports in rehabilitation of mentally ill.
The lack of expertise of health professionals for the integration of sports activities in the current treatment concepts.
The absence of specific cross-sectoral policies to encourage the integration of sports activities in the rehabilitation processes of the mental patients.
Core target of the project is the establishment of a European Network aiming at the conjunction of Mental Health and Sport.
Within this frame main objectives of the project are:
The development of a documented and evidence based approach of the use of sports and physical exercise in the treat of mental illness (12 Policy papers)
The establishment of a European Mental Health Sports Network (mapping, statutes and founding Conference)
The public awareness on the necessity of a new specific approach on the conjunction of Sport with Mental Health within an EU wide Awareness Campaign
17 Organizations from 12 EU Member States acting in Mental Health and/or Sports & Physical Exercise fields.
The networking phase of the project will involve preparatory networking activities and development of the Network.
During the first step of the Networking potential members of the M.E.N.S. Network will be identified. This will be achieved via mapping of various organizations in all member states and all of the project’s partners will contribute to it. This mapping will be done in two steps:
Organizations identified will be very diverse and cover a wide range of areas such as sports and athletes associations, mental health organizations, educational institutions, governmental bodies, etc.
The organizations identified will be assessed in terms of their relevance to the project and the most relevant will be contacted with the invitation to join the Network. Draft Network’s development plan and Network statutes will be made during this workstream as well. This activity will be coordinated by the EUFAMI and the whole phase is expected to last from February 2017 till June 2018.
The key factor for the success of the present initiative is the mobilization of the relevant stakeholders, the field experts and the general public towards the necessity of a specific strategy and action that will provide a creative, productive and efficient framework for the conjunction of Sport and Physical Exercise with Mental Health.
The understanding of this necessity can come only as a result of am EU wide Awareness Campaign which is the tool to reform well established perceptions and create a new inspired mentality.
In order to insure the success of the campaign the first step will be the conduction of a research in order to map the mainstream ideas, to identify non-covered needs of the Mental Health field and to explore new forms of Sport and Physical Exercise activities able to contribute to the project’s goal. The research will be implemented according a specific methodological approach.
One of the main objectives of the project is the development of several policy papers in order to provide a comprehensive and persuasive argument justifying the contribution of sports, physical activity, and exercise for the prevention, therapy, and rehabilitation of individuals with Mental Illness in the European continent.
Twelve policy papers will be developed by the partners of this initiative to act as a decision-making tool and a call to action for the target audience. More specifically, the policy papers will explore some of the evidence claiming that sports, exercise, and physical activity play an important role in terms of both preventing, as well as treating, mental health problems.
Also, they will provide recommendations and a framework for the application of several sports, exercise and physical activity models specifically applied to individuals either with (treatment) or without mental health problems from the ‘general’ population (prevention).
Overall, the policy papers will be driven and targeted on the development of practical, implementable, and comprehensive recommendations in which sports, exercise, and physical activity models would be applied as adjacent or alternative to medications and clinical therapies.