Authors: Alison De Pree-Raghavan, Kayleigh Ellis, Stephen Howald
Event: 2015 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Physical Wellbeing
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: This paper discusses lessons from an innovative partnership project which brings together physical exercise and community development practice to increase the social inclusion and participation of people with mental illness living in the community. The project – Integrated Care: Physical and Social Wellbeing – is based on inter-disciplinary practice between exercise physiology and social work in social housing communities of Glebe/Camperdown. Research indicates that participating in sport and recreation contributes to what are viewed as key social work outcomes: confidence-building and empowerment; social integration and cohesion; cultural identity and pride; and a reduction in crime and vandalism (Grieve & Sherry, 2012; Long & Sanderson, 2001; Sport and Recreation Victoria, 2008; Canada, 2005; Sport England, 2002; VicHealth, 2008). People living with mental illness in the community and their carers often experience social exclusion and stigmatization (Sherry, 2010), and sport is an innovative way of building a sense of inclusion creating ‘‘a feeling of closeness and camaraderie with a group of other people, usually geographically proximate, who are not necessarily related through kinship’’ (Smith & Ingham, 2003, p.253). This paper will draw on process evaluation data focusing on early lessons as well as identifying ongoing challenges to supporting the social inclusion and community participation of people living with mental illness in social housing settings.