“SPHERE – Sport Healing Rehabilitation” is a project coordinated by ECOS and co-funded by the European Union in the framework of the Erasmus+ Sport Programme.
It is the first time that EACEA (the European Commission Agency) has co-funded a project of psychiatric rehabilitation through sport. It is a further step to bring mental illness treatments outside health facilities and inside the society – and so fighting the social stigma and fostering inclusion.
Over the last few decades, several scientific studies have shown how sport and physical activity improve the psychophysical wellbeing of people with mental health problems. Sport and physical activity act as a real therapy – complementary to psychiatric drugs – and play an important role in preventing mental illness and enhancing the quality of life of those living with these problems. Sports and their training methods are very close to the psychiatric rehabilitation because they include many therapeutic values: they are easily accessible, stimulate self-confidence, self-esteem and self-awareness, and encourages socialisation and belonging to a group.
SPHERE will last 24 months (from January 2019 to December 2020) and involve ECOS together with other important partners at European level:
- Finnish Sport Federation Tampere Region (Finland)
- Everton in the Community (UK)
- Rijeka Sports Association for persons with disabilities (Croatia)
- Technical University of Munich (Germany)
- European Platform for Sport Innovation (Belgium)
- Cardiff Metropolitan University (UK)
The project aims 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
SPHERE is based on the collaboration between sports, mental health and education sectors in order to promote physical activity in the rehabilitation paths 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.