Fintar o Estigma” is an initiative culminating in an inclusive football tournament that brings together people with mental health problems, their families and clinicians, as well as students from higher education institutions.

People with mental illness face marked situations of social isolation and low levels of community participation, resulting not only from intrinsic factors (e.g. deficits in interpersonal interaction), but also from the social stigma that limits their opportunities for integration. They are also at increased risk of developing some physical pathology (e.g., cardiovascular diseases, metabolic processes, diabetes and respiratory diseases). In addition to all biological and physiological benefits, practicing sports is also an important factor in combating physical inactivity and has a very positive impact on the quality of life and well-being of this particular population (Pearsall, Smith, Pelosi, & Geddes, 2014).

The MENS Project aims to develop strong institutional procedures for the specific contribution of sports to the prevention, therapy and rehabilitation of people with mental health problems at European level. Within this philosophy, all partners take action to gather and disseminate good practices as well as to promote sport events with this framework.

The “Fintar o Estigma” is an initiative promoted by Associação Nova Aurora – ANARP (PT) that culminates in an inclusive football tournament that brings together people with mental health problems, their families and mental health professionals from rehabilitation centers, as well as students, teachers and staff from higher education institutions. Through direct contact and the informal environment ensured by sports practice, this event creates a space of intersection between different realities, enhancing the reduction of stigma against mental illness in the academic community and creating opportunities for participation. It involves a phase of preparation of the athletes that implies weekly trainings and friendly games encouraging the practice of physical activity for the users of the psychosocial rehabilitation institutions.

This year, the final event took place in May in the city of Porto. 120 users as players/ spectators, 60 students and 40 professionals participated. Another MENS partner took part in this event – Fundación INTRAS (ES).

The project promoted the transmission of an anti-stigma message, using a model that easily approaches the citizen through a popular sport. In addition, it contributed to well-being and a sense of belonging in the community, promoting health gains for people with mental health problems.

References: Pearsall, R., Smith, D., Pelosi, A., & Geddes, J. (2014). Exercise therapy in adults with serious mental illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 14, 1-17.

Contact person: Raquel Simões de Almeida,