Ards And North Down Borough Council Leads Way In Mental Health Provision

Ards and North Down Borough Council is one of the first local authorities to deliver a pilot scheme of ‘Chi Me’ to help residents with mental health issues improve their wellbeing.

dn_screenNearly 20 members of Action Mental Health (AMH) participated in the free four-week programme that is based on the centuries old Chinese practice of Tai Chai. The class combines deep breathing and relaxation with controlled, gentle movements to quiet and focus the mind. Besides helping to improve mental wellbeing, potential health benefits may include improved heart function and normalised blood pressure. Chi Me is also particularly useful for those with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and osteoporosis and people recovering from cancer or cardiac illness. Participating in the class can also improve strength, flexibility, balance and co-ordination. Mayor of Ards, Alderman Alan Graham, said: “Ards and North Down Borough Council is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of its residents and is proud to take part in the pilot of this innovative new class.”

“Almost anyone can take part in Chi Me, even those with conditions that may exclude them from other forms of exercise, as it is very low impact and places little pressure on your bones and joints. Plus no expensive exercise gear is needed; the class can be done wearing comfortable, loose clothes and trainers.”

Selwyn Johnston, Service Manager with AMH, said that he was delighted that clients who are recovering from mental ill health were able to experience this relaxing form of gentle exercise, which has helped to inspire participants to continue with regular exercise.

One of the AMH clients taking part, David Hanna, outlined that this was the first time for him to try something like this. He said: “I found Chi-Me very relaxing and great for both the mind and body.”

David hopes to continue Chi-Mi beyond the four week session and found the instructor Craig Connor, Assistant Sports Development Officer for Ards and North Down Borough Council, to be extremely encouraging and positive in demonstrating the various exercises and delivering the sessions.