The Focus on Fitness Program was developed by CMHA East Branch with the support and expertise of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit and the Healthy Rhythm Coalition. Consumers with severe and persistent mental illness can benefit from an affordable fitness program that promotes physical and mental health, reduces social isolation and provides an opportunity to make new acquaintances.
Using a recovery-based approach, mental health case managers facilitate physical activities and offer education on a variety of health- and mental health-related topics. The program is offered free of charge with the exception of special activities. It includes the following three components:
1. The Walking Club organizes weekly walks for participants led by staff and/or a volunteer. There is the choice of a short or long circuit depending upon a participant’s level of endurance. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit donates a beginner’s kit to each participant containing a pedometer, waist pouch, water bottle and a magnetized calendar. The Walking Club also offers aqua fitness classes, training in a gym and other opportunities to experiment with physical activity.
2. Healthy Living offers educational sessions on topics such as nutrition, stress management and Tai Chi. Consumers discuss ways to take care of their mental health and physical health including the benefits of water, relaxation, motivation, walking and so on. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit and other community agencies attend and make presentations. Certificates are handed out to participants who have taken part in all eight sessions. Space permitting, participants can retake missed sessions or retake the full program to obtain their certificate.
3. The Mental Health Awareness Walk is an annual event that takes place in the community during Mental Health Awareness Week. CMHA consumers are encouraged to attend.
Overall program success is measured by changes in a participant’s behavior, attitudes and knowledge. Indicators of change include:
- Increased physical strength and endurance
- Increased knowledge regarding the benefits of exercise and other health-related topics
- Increased opportunities for participant socialization
- Increased self-esteem and confidence
- Reduced anxiety or other stress-related symptoms
For more information, contact:
Canadian Mental Health Association, Champlain East Branch
329 Pitt Street, Cornwall ON K6J 3R1