The Mind and Body Project starts from the premise that mental and physical health are interlinked and for people to live healthier lives a holistic approach is needed.
Activities were delivered in areas with high incidence of health inequalities and targeted at the most disadvantaged people, who experienced or were at risk of experiencing poor mental health, including Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups and people who are out of work.
The project worked on an individual and community level through direct interventions such as:
- Group activities - six or 12 week sessions on topics such as healthy lifestyles, anger management, emotional and physical wellbeing, women’s wellbeing and Zumba
- One-off taster sessions to encourage recruitment to the group activities
- ‘Change one thing’ workshops - structured support to promote sustained behavioural change based on the person’s own goals
- Volunteering opportunities - recruiting 15 Community Health Champions who help engage people from their communities to attend the groups and help to run them.
Over two and a half years more than 750 people have been engaged through the project making a positive change to their lifestyles. Of these 17% were from BME communities. A follow up survey showed that, of those sampled, 85% had sustained the lifestyle changes they had made through the programme, for example being more physically active, eating more healthily or using strategies for managing excessive anger. Critical to the success of the project is the link between promotion of physical and mental health.
One participant said:
“Attending the group has changed my life. I never realised before how unhealthy my life was and why I felt depressed so much of the time. I now take some form of exercise most days and cook meals at home instead of eating takeaways. I have lost weight and feel far more confident about myself and am now looking for a job."
* This example was adapted from Mind/Mental Health Foundation (2014) Building Resilient Communities, London: Mind and originally published in No Assumptions: a narrative for personalised, coordinated care and support in mental health, National Voices/TLAP, August 2014.
The Mind and Body project continues. It is run by Sheffield Mind, who has been granted funding for three years (until 2017) to run the Sheffield Mind and Body Project through the Big Lottery’s Reaching Communities fund.