SPHERE addresses social inclusion and equal opportunities in sport, since it is a project aimed at fostering sport and physical activity in the psychiatric rehabilitation programs through the definition and sharing of a sport scientific protocol improved by psychiatrists and academic researchers. The protocol will allow to identify the most suitable sport for psychiatric patients with different diagnoses and backgrounds in order to improve their psychophysical well-being.
The project is based on the collaboration between sports, mental health and education sectors in order to foster physical activity in the rehabilitation programs of psychiatric patients, since they are almost exclusively treated with pharmacological therapies which in the long run – as a consequence of the side effects associated with drugs intake – may cause other psychophysical problems.
Starting from a general investigation of the best practices and entities in the European Union regarding sport and mental health, the project aims to establish a scientific committee that will define the general guidelines on which the pilot projects will be carried out.
All data collected during the experimental therapies will be analysed in order to define the protocol that will be then evaluated and improved where required. The protocol will be validated both on a medical and sporting level and shared among the stakeholders involved, while results will be spread across all the interested institutions, mental health centres and sports facilities, in order to institutionalise physical activity within psychosocial rehabilitation paths.
The project is addressed to all people with mental health problems in order to improve their quality of life and protect their rights, dignity and inclusion through the creation of therapeutic paths able to combine the typical sports training sessions together with psychiatric rehabilitation.
SPHERE is very easy to replicate in different contexts, both on a local/national or international level, because it is essentially based on the synergy of psychiatrists, organisations, health and sports facilities aimed at defining specific programs and carrying out joint activities to enhance the patients’ wellbeing. Thanks to SPHERE, people with mental health problems will improve their psychophysical wellbeing and social skills, and tackle isolation.
By practicing group sports, patients will learn the compliance with the rules and enhance their self-control and sense of responsibility and sharing. Psychiatric centres and hospitals will reduce the expenditure for mental health (e.g. amount of drugs, frequency of relapses and hospitalizations etc.),while psychiatrists will enhance the relationships with their patients and the relative therapeutic adherence.
Sports facilities will improve their ability to respond to the needs of community, and the sports operators involved will expand their knowledge and professional skills. The whole civil society will be more aware about the topic and encouraged to fight against the social stigma still existing around mental illness in order to be more inclusive for a better social cohesion.