People with severe mental illness in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin offered free tennis sessions to improve their health page thumbnail

MPFT's Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin care group are working with Tennis Shropshire to encourage more people with severe mental illness to be physically active.

Evidence shows that people with a severe mental illness (SMI) are more likely to die prematurely than people who do not have SMI. According to Public Health England, SMI refers to people with psychological problems that severely impair their ability to engage in functional and occupational activities. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are often referred to as an SMI.

The partnership between MPFT and Tennis Shropshire seeks to offer interventions to address high mortality rates in those with SMI, by providing free and supported access to a sport that may not have previously been accessible, encouraging physical activity.

Starting on Wednesday 11 January, tennis sessions will take place for 12 weeks, 11am – 12noon, at The Cathie Sabin Community Tennis Centre at Shrewsbury Tennis Club. The sessions are completely free of charge with all equipment provided. A coach will be on hand to support and guide participants.

Claire Parrish, Service Manager of MPFT’s Adult Community Mental Health Services in Shropshire said: “MPFT as a mental health service provider, is working with public health colleagues to address the higher mortality rates seen in those with SMI. It is important that we support our service users to stay healthy and motivate them to try new activities.

“MPFT’s partnership with Tennis Shropshire is a fantastic opportunity for our service users to try a sport that they may not have had access to previously, with no commitment or costs to them and in a no pressure environment.

 “We know that activity is beneficial to both our physical and mental health and I hope that these sessions will also provide an opportunity to meet new people and socialise.”

Craig Sherratt, a coach with Inspire2coach who will be running the programme for Tennis Shropshire added: “We are pleased to work with MPFT to be able to offer these sessions to local people, which actively promote and deliver opportunities for those with SMI to get involved in tennis.

“We want to make tennis a sport for everyone, as it offers improvement in mental and physical health, a chance to have fun, socialise and compete with compatible people. I’d encourage anyone who meets the qualifying criteria to come along and give it a go.” 

An ‘open court’ taster session was held for SMI service users on the 3rd December. A service user who attended said: “I had a really great time. I’ve never played tennis before but I’m definitely going to join the group in January.”

Registration is for patients who are 18+, considered to have an SMI (prescribed antipsychotic medication) and registered with a GP in Shropshire, Telford or Wrekin, via email: