Newman Reader involved in research as part of National Health Campaign

27/09/2022 by Leah Masters

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Following an evaluation from Newman’s Dr Adam Benkwitz and colleagues at Nottingham Trent University, the final report for the national UK charity Rethink Mental Illness is now fully available online.

The three-year project evaluated the impact of embedding physical activity into peer support groups for individuals with severe mental illness. The evaluation was led by Trent’s Dr Laura Healy, and the overall project was part of the nationalWe are Undefeatable’ campaign involving 16 major health and social care charities

A particular interest in the evaluation was to investigate the impact of peer support and social interaction on physical activity behaviours for individuals severely affected by mental illness. Participants were based in 46 peer support groups across England, and they were supported by group leads and project managers from Rethink Mental Illness, following funding from Sport England and the National Lottery.

Adam Benkwitz, Reader in the Sociology of Sport and Health, said: “It’s great to see the full report published, it’s been a terrific team effort for three years with colleagues at Trent, Rethink, and the peer researchers. Hopefully the findings and recommendations will have an impact in practice and improve the health of people with severe mental illness”.

The key findings related to: 1) the social aspects of embedding physical activity in the groups; 2) the focus on peer support and informal physical activity (rather than organised sport) being beneficial; 3) doing things differently and lessons to learn; and 4) the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overall, it was found that peer support is an important feature to include in projects encouraging those severely affected by mental illness to become more physically active – much more detail is available in the report.

Access the full report online.