Local education and health providers join forces to tackle mental illness

Converge – a partnership developed by York St John University and mental health service providers in the region – is extending the support it provides to mental health service users in the city with the launch of a new sports and exercise programme.

The course, entitled Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, is jointly funded by the University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and will provide a range of activities, including team sports, gym and racket sports – all led by professionally qualified instructors.

Project director Nick Rowe says the new programme aims to build on the successful Converge model, which currently offers courses in theatre, creative writing, dance, music and singing for mental health service users, run by university students and staff.

“We work with adults aged 18 years and over, who are taught by undergraduate and postgraduate students and staff with a solid track record of delivering courses to people with mental health problems,” he said. “All of our activities are underpinned with the necessary support and offer a way in, or back in, to education for service users, as well as opportunities for full-time students to gain valuable work experience and raise their game in an increasingly competitive employment market.

“The new sports programme is based on research which suggests that exercise has a positive effect on mental health, as well as physical health and social wellbeing.

“There is strong evidence to suggest that exercise has a beneficial role in reducing negative mental health symptoms, such as depression, withdrawal, lack of motivation and sleep deprivation, and has been linked with an increase in self-esteem. Through the new programme, we can extend the support we provide to mental health service users in York, with a view to reducing their dependence on the health service.”

The Healthy Body, Healthy Mind programme will comprise hour-long sessions catering for all abilities from 2 July, running on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at York St John University. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis. To find out more and book places, contact Hilary Bailey on 01904 876902 or email converge@yorksj.ac.uk

For further information please contact Amy Hall, PR & Communications Officer on T: 01904 876466 or E:a.hall@yorksj.ac.uk