13 Mar 2017

Occupational therapists Michelle Nielsen and Ilaria Browne attended the Football Therapy for Mental Wellbeing presentation at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 7 March to represent the Hounslow Hawks football team and raise awareness about the importance of sport therapy for mental wellbeing.

It has been 10 years since Michelle set up the Hounslow Hawks, a community based group that uses football to maintain psychological wellbeing and help prevent re-admission to acute services.

Over the past decade, awareness of the positive impact of sport on mental health has grown, with commissioners now becoming aware of team based sports interventions as a ‘social prescription’ – football can be prescribed as a way of improving mental health and wellbeing.

Over 100 guests attended the event, which included MPs, footballers, service users and football associations. Details of the event, which was organised by the Mental Health Football Association, can be found on their website: www.mentalhealthfootballassociation.com/latest-news.

The event has inspired Michelle and the team to further develop the Hounslow Hawks football programme, with the hope of expansion to allow people to access the group from primary care mental health services, widening the social inclusion of the project.

The team is currently working with Brentford Football Club Community Sports Trust, The Wellbeing Network, the Primary Care Mental Health service, Mind Ealing and Hounslow, and Hounslow One You service. They are also piloting a couch to 5K programme.