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Football Project Tackles Mental Health Recovery

July 02, 2010 10:15 AM

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Players from around the world are currently competing for World Cup glory, and while Scotland failed to qualify, a home-based squad are achieving their own personal goals.

“Tackling Recovery” is a unique scheme for people suffering from mental health issues and the 12-week football coaching project, based at Lesser Hampden Park, and it is using the sport as therapy for the client group.

A joint venture between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), Queen’s Park Football Club and the Scottish Football Association, the idea came from Occupational Therapist Scott Smart, who is based with the Mental Health Partnership, North East Inpatients.

He said: “The project is all about using the sport to reduce stigma, increase physical activity, and encourage confidence and self-esteem.

“Together with our partners we set up professional football coaching sessions, skills development and match play, and at the end of the project we will evaluate the mental and physical well-being changes in the participants.”

Ten of the sessions, each lasting 90 minutes, are not only developing playing skills, but have also looked at the therapeutic benefits of involvement in football.

And to add to the healthy approach NHSGGC Smokefree Services sponsored the players training kit.

George Watson, Queen’s Park’s Head of Youth and Community Development, said:

“People from all walks of life like sport in general and football in particular and there are real benefits.

“There is always a massive interest in sport and there are benefits from physical activities.

“The accent is on participation and enjoyment and I’m hoping it will have a positive out come for everyone taking part, from the coaches to the patients and their carers.

“As a club we are keen to support people in the community in all different circumstances and I think this benefits football in that respect.

“I think this is a good initiative because when people play sport it helps break-down barriers, it makes you think about other things for awhile and that can be therapeutic.”

Referrals for the project have come from any member of the multi-disciplinary team involved in the support and care of the service user.

The scheme targets male patients between the ages of 18-35 who are involved in community mental health teams, specialist services or who are inpatients.

Ross Paterson, Youth Coach for Queen’s Park and a former youth player for the club, described his new squad as “fabulous!”

He went on: “When you see the response from the boys, their attitude and application, this is a group I could work with every day.

“Sport is a great way of breaking down barriers, it brings everyone together, and this project has been wonderful to work on.

“There is a great rapport amongst the guys and I have seen many positive changes in their attitude as the sessions went on.”

One squad member, Kriss, said that taking part in the scheme has motivated him to continue playing sport:

“I’m going to get back into training and fitness with my mates, and it has also helped my mental health.”

Stuart Sharpe, Scottish FA National Development Manager – Disability said:
“It has been great to witness at first hand the success of this innovative new project.

In week one, the players were cautious and almost overawed by their surroundings, but you can see their confidence growing as they thrive in this football environment.

“It’s great for the Scottish FA to see more people enjoying the game, and it’s especially pleasing to see people growing in confidence both on and off the pitch.”
Ends

Notes to Editors:
The final coaching session takes place on Friday, July 2, at Lesser Hampden.

For more information contact either NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]

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