Empowering People with Psychosocial Disabilities’ Participation in Physical Exercise


The 1 year pilot project is led by the Mental Health Foundation working with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland. The South Eastern Recovery College and Northern Recovery College are partners.

Research provides evidence that there is a widening 20 year mortality gap and increased risk of illness experienced by people with psycho-social disabilities – people with lived experience of mental health problems. Physical health inequality and preventable deaths is a listed issue among people with psycho-social disabilities in the Committee on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) UK review.

This project is coproducing a physical activity programme with the purpose of:

  • Increasing our knowledge about what works to engage people with psycho-social disabilities in sustained physical activity to a level that is improving and protecting their physical health
  • Improving sports, recreation and leisure facilities and the professional practices of fitness instructors to empower people with psycho-social disabilities to engage in physical activity
  • Re-orientating social care and public health policy and practice to recognise the importance of integrating physical activity into a holistic approach to independent living

Peer researchers are being recruited through the Partners and receiving accredited training through Queen’s University Belfast. As members of the research team, the research methodology and programme design and delivery is being designed by the peer researchers.

The legacy of the project will be an evidenced based exercise programme that maximises participation and acceptability amongst those with psycho-social disabilities.