EVENTS is the first European Sport Event for Mental Health in September 2018.
There were 14 countries who sent 250 representatives to Athens to attend 3 days of events which involves their participation in 22 different kind of activities. The concept behind the project is a socially driven campaign led by a European collaboration to highlight the benefits of active living on one’s mental health, its potential use in treatment and challenge the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental health.
First Fortnight was the Irish organisation involved and will be sending over a team of 5 people. As such, they asked us if there was anyone we have worked with who would like to represent Ireland at the inaugural event. It was a brilliant opportunity which we offered to Members of our coalition. Aoife Price of the Union of Students in Ireland jumped at the opportunity. Aoife shares, in the piece below, about the experience of EVENTS.
“I was delighted to be asked as a member (Union of Students in Ireland) of Mental Health Reform to join the Irish team for the first European Sport & Physical Exercise Event for Mental Health that took place in Athens from the 21-23rd of September 2018. There were participating teams from all over Europe including Greece, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Portugal, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Bulgaria. The Irish team was organised through First Fortnight, a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action.
The three days were filled with various sporting activities from trail running, dance, yoga to Tai chi which was a personal favourite. Events were non-competitive and the ethos behind the event was to encourage physical activity to support mental health and wellbeing. This is something I am personally very passionate about as I believe that exercise has a direct impact on mood, this has certainly been the case for me. Research shows that those with serious mental health difficulties have a shorter life span and this is often related to poor physical health that could be helped through exercise. The social element of exercise can also play a part in terms of combatting isolation felt by many. In my opinion, there should be a lot more emphasis on sport and exercise when it comes to treatment of mental health difficulties.
Overall it was a great experience and thanks again to Mental Health Reform and First Fortnight for the opportunity.”
Many thanks to Aoife, the Union of Students in Ireland, and First Fortnight for all their work on this project.
Aoife is currently Mental Health Project Manager of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). She has been working in the area of youth mental health for the past 10 years. Past roles include advisor to Jigsaw, CAMHS, HSE and St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services. During this time, she has worked with peers and staff to drive change around mental health in Ireland and internationally. Most recently, Aoife has been elected to the executive committee of the International Association for Youth Mental Health.
About First Fortnight:
First Fortnight is a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action.