Fitness instructors to be trained to help people with severe mental illness get active


Rethink Mental Illness has partnered with industry-leading fitness company FitPro to remove the barriers to exercise for people living with mental illness.

In our recent survey with people living with severe mental illness, over 90% agreed physical activity would benefit them in the long term. This includes improved mood, better functioning and more energy, to better sleep and longer term benefits like reduced weight and increased self-confidence.

But barriers to accessing physical activity, including medication side effects like weight gain and lethargy, combined with stigma and lack of education about mental illness in the fitness industry is preventing people from getting active.

Over 75% of people said their medical condition makes it hard for them to exercise. And over 70% said they would be more likely to do physical activity if gyms or activity instructors /coaches had a better understanding of mental illness.

As part of our Sport England funded project to understand and address the issues preventing people from becoming more active, we are teaming up with FitPro to create e-learning education to upskill fitness instructors to work effectively with people living with severe mental illness.

By collaborating with people living with severe mental illness and FitPro experts, we hope to educate and train fitness instructors across England about mental illness to give everyone the opportunity to exercise in a safe, understanding space.

If you are a fitness instructor and would like to be notified as soon as the course is available, register your interest on the FitPro website.

More about our work with Sport England

At Rethink Mental Illness we are working on a Sport England funded place-based project in Tower Hamlets and North East Lincolnshire.

Collaborating with key stakeholders from across the health sector, physical activity sector, voluntary sector, and people with lived experience we are developing a deep-rooted understanding of the barriers to accessing appropriate physical activity opportunities and support, and working in partnership to co-produce and embed interventions to address the barriers. 

As part of this work we are piloting physical activity navigators, or ‘Move More Mentors’ to provide practical and emotional support and to help address the additional barriers faced by people living with mental illness.

As well as the work to create e-learning education for fitness and exercise professionals, we are coproducing a ‘Good Practice Guide for Physical Activity Providers’ to support physical activity providers to improve the experience and reduce barriers for people living with a severe mental illness to attend a range of activities. The project is ongoing with a final evaluation report launching late 2024.