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Service user badminton group in full swing

Posted: 18/10/21

A badminton group which helps people with mental health issues is in full swing.

The group, which is for service users who have been referred to Newcastle’s Early Intervention in Psychosis Team, meets once a week at Tyneside Badminton Centre.

Part of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), the team works with people aged 14-65 who are experiencing a first episode of psychosis.

The group is for service users of all abilities, allowing them to talk about their shared experiences and difficulties while exercising in a fun and supportive environment.

Many of the participants have experienced extreme anxiety, paranoia and intrusive thoughts. Regular attendees have said it makes them feel like they’re part of something as there’s a real camaraderie in the group.

Joanne Johnson, Clinical Support Assistant at CNTW, said: “Initially some members haven’t wanted to come because of the stigma around being part of a mental health group. We’re passionate about combating that stigma and work hard to make our groups and activities as informal and welcoming as possible.

“The normalising environment of the badminton centre and the ethos of the group has helped reduce anxiety and distress.”

Staff also use the group as a way to discuss healthy lifestyle choices, diet and other aspects of both mental and physical health.

One group member said: “The badminton group has had a great influence on my life. I am able to socialise with new people while keeping fit. It has allowed me to stay motivated when I have low moods because it makes me feel energetic.

“Being able to exercise with the group makes me feel successful, active and productive.”

The sessions have been made possible thanks to the Trust’s charity, The SHINE Fund. Money from the fund is used to provide the ‘little extras’ that make a big difference to people’s wellbeing and recovery. It has supported our patients with everything from horse-riding outings to gardening tools, and even Christmas decorations to brighten up our wards.

You can learn more about the SHINE Fund here.