Sport aid for mentally ill

SPORT might not be everyone's cup of tea but for people with mental health problems it can be the key to opening up a whole new world.Now staff at St.

SPORT might not be everyone's cup of tea but for people with mental health problems it can be the key to opening up a whole new world.

Now staff at St Clement's Hospital have organised a major football tournament to raise awareness about the benefits of sport, as well as raising money for new machines at their gym.

There are 14 teams involved in Wednesday's tournament, which will help the hospital to buy a new glider machine, cross trainer and exercise bike for the Bodymatters Gym.

Andy Harding is gym manager and has seen many times how exercise can help patients.

He said: "We had one guy who was here about a year ago.

"He would just sit in the corner on the ward and start rocking and not communicate with anyone.

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"After awhile we got him to play football with us and it was just like someone had switched a light on inside him – he was playing like David Beckham."

Andy added that none of the doctors could believe the change and had to come to watch the patient play themselves before they would believe it.

It has been scientifically proven that sport can help with mental health problems.

Andy said: "You usually find that if people are depressed they tend to isolate themselves, but if they play sport or go to the gym they can meet other people.

"There is also research to say that schizophrenics are helped by playing team games."

Staff and patients from hospitals across East Anglia are all taking part in Wednesday's tournament.

At the moment there are 14 teams, so two more team slots of seven players each are still available.

Anyone can enter a team for a fee of £10 which will go towards the new gym equipment.

It is also hoped that former Ipswich Town player Mick Stockwell, who now plays for Colchester United, might be available to present the tournament trophies.

The tournament will run from 10.30am to around 3.30pm. For further information call Andy Harding on 715111 ext 2298.

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