MENS Project


The MENS final conference was held on June 14th in Athens. We were delighted to attend and share the findings from our paper,  titled “Mental Health and Stigma in Europe”, led and presented by Pauline Moloney.

One of the main objectives of the project was the development of these policy papers in order to provide a comprehensive and persuasive argument justifying the contribution of sports, physical activity, and exercise for the prevention, therapy, and rehabilitation of individuals with Mental Illness in the European continent.

The twelve policy papers were developed by the partners of this initiative to act as a decision-making tool and a call to action for the target audience. More specifically, the policy papers explore some of the evidence claiming that sports, exercise, and physical activity play an important role in terms of both preventing, as well as treating, mental health problems.

We are including the pdf for the policy papers here  and would encourage everyone to read it whether you have a sports or health background or neither!

The final deliverable of the MENS Project that includes the Minutes
of the Final Conference which took place in Athens in June, can be found here.
In this booklet you will find the following selected materials of the Conference
• The detailed agenda of the Conference
• The opening speech by the MENS Project Manager presenting the vision of the project
• and the overall initiative on the connection of Sport and Physical Activities with Mental Health
• An outline presentation of the MENS Project where a detailed description of the
• project development the project aims and outcomes are provided
• A condensed presentation of the Research conducted during 2017 in 17 countries to
collect data on the situation and connection between Sport and Physical Activities and Mental Health held throughout organisations and individuals across Europe in order to• prepare the ground for the European Awareness Campaign that followed the next year. To download the full Research Report, please click here.
• The Life is Like a bike Awareness campaign
• The Statutes of the European Network of Active Living for Mental Health which is seated in Brussels, Belgium after its establishment on February 1st 2018.

To download the MENS Project Leaflet, please click here.

To download the MENS Project Banner, please click here.

Press Release
European Awareness Campaign
Connecting Sport & Physical Activity with Mental Health
ΜENS Project

«Life is like a bike. To keep your balance, you have to keep moving»: Albert Einstein combines in one sentence the laws of Physics with a life attitude. Another source of inspiration for the holistic approach of Mental Health through an active living, through the use of the positive effect that sport and physical exercise have on our daily mood and mental balance.

A link that aims to establish the five-month European Campaign “Life is like a bike” (February-June 2018) and will be held in parallel in 12 European countries, as the main goal of the MENS Project, the European project, which is co-funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus + program. MENS project is implemented with the involvement of 17 organizations, from 12 EU Member States, active in the field of mental health and / or sports and physical exercise.

The main objective of the MENS project, the coordinator of which is the organization & Social Cooperative Activities of Vulnerable Groups – EDRA ( – is the establishment of the European Network of Active Living for Mental Health (ENALMH) highlighting the crucial meaning of the link between Physical Exercise and Sports for the prevention, the treatment and the rehabilitation in the field of Mental Health. The “Life is Like a bike” campaign is based on the results of the European survey among organizations and individuals about their experience and their opinions on the contribution of physical exercise and sport to mental health through specially designed questionnaires for sports organizations, mental health providers (recipients of their services or professionals) and the general population. The survey lasted two months (October-November 2017) and was completed with 2,656 participants from 12 European countries. Based on the survey data, a positive attitude towards the link between “sport / exercise and mental health” arises, but also a lack of motivation and of in-depth knowledge. Therefore, the “Life is Like a Bike” campaign acquires an informative but also encouraging character to provide valid information to those who have not yet adopt the active living, as a resounding confirmation for those who have adopted an active daily routine but also as a further reinforcement of the existing initiatives.

To download the “Life is Like a Bike” campaign poster click here or the campaign banner click here and join us!

Keep balance, Keep moving. Life is like a bike!

Move with us 



First Fortnight was excited to host Corinthian as part of the 2018 First Fortnight Mental Health Arts Festival in Ireland. This event was in partnership with the MENS project and was possible thanks to funding from the Erasmus + Programme – Key Action Sport – Support to Collaborative Partnerships. Corinthian took place in the Sugar Club in Dublin on Jan 13th 2018 at 2pm.

Sport is a wonderful thing and can have a strong, positive impact upon your mental health. But the pressure of representing your country, county, town or village can also be a heavy burden. For example Jessie Barr, Irish Olympic athlete and doctoral candidate at the University of Limerick, who researches in this area, has highlighted in the past the impact of elite sport and its associated stresses upon athlete’s mental health- ‘Almost 11,000 athletes compete during the Olympic Games, but only 9pc will return home with a prize for their effort, a tiny 3pc with first prize.’

 Corinthian was an animated and interactive discussion where a panel of experts and a large audience explored these pressures athletes face and how best to cope with them. Former rugby player and Mental Health Ambassador, Niall Breslin, inter-county Irish footballer Dermot Earley and PFA member Michael Bennett shared their wisdom on how to deal with the spotlight. Dermot is the former president and the current Chief Executive of GPA while Michael works on the Anti-Bullying Workshop initiative within the PFA and the Premier League which has been rolled out to all Premier League clubs delivers diversity training to scholars at Premier League clubs.





2nd MENS Project Meeting
Prague, 22 – 23 June, 2017


Establishment of the
European Network of Active Living for Mental Health (ENALMH)

The second meeting of MENS Project (Mental European Network of Sport Events) was successfully held on the 22nd and the 23rd of June 2017 in the city of Prague. The project, which is co-funded by the Erasmus+/ Sport programme of the European Commission, aims to develop strong institutional procedures for the specific contribution of sport and physical exercise to the prevention, therapy and rehabilitation of mental illness at a European level.

The core objectives of the project are:
– Setting the foundation for established policies on the connection between the fields of Sport and Physical Exercise and Mental Health.
– The realization of a European Awareness Campaign in order to motivate and sensitize the States, Local Authorities, Organizations which are active in both fields and also the General Public.
– The foundation of a European Network which will serve the innovative conjunction of these fields.

During the first day of the meeting, thirty nine representatives from the seventeen partners of the project (which originate from twelve countries- more specifically Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania , Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and United Kingdom) reviewed the successfully implemented stages of the project so far and afterwards they examined the progress of the ongoing tasks as well as programmed the upcoming ones, under the coordination of the leading partner, Greek organisation K.S.D.E.O. “EDRA”.

The second day of the meeting was dedicated exclusively to the Constituent General Assembly of the European Network of Active Living for Mental Health – ENALMH.
The Statute of the Network was approved by the founding members, as the works of the assembly dictated and afterward the election of the members of the Managing Board took place, with the final results being:

President: Vasilis Klissouras, Professor Emeritus of Ergophysiology,
University of Athens, GR
Vice President: Aleksandros Oikonomou, Psychologist,S EDRA (GR)
Treasurer: Mara Morici, Political Scientist, COOS MARCHE (IT)
Secretary: Nicola Daily, MA in European Union Studies, Merseyside Expanded Horizons (UK)
Members: Jan Drobny, social worker, Focus-Praha, (CZ)
Dave Reid, MSc Psychotherapy, First Fortnight Ltd. (IE)

Secretary General: Nicos Andreopoulos, Project Manager

The legal seat of the Network will be in Brussels, Belgium and the geographical scope of its activities includes the countries which are members of the Council of Europe. The Managing Board that was elected ensures a wide representation in a European Level.

After exploring the wider field of Mental Health, it has been established that the existing procedures at a European or National level do not provide the necessary, specialized approach to sufficiently connect the benefits of Sport and Physical Exercise with Mental Health. Thus the main goals of the Network are:

– Enrichment of the therapeutic procedures of mental health services with the good use of sport and physical exercise for the users.
– Strengthening of social cohesion by combating stigma of the mentally ill people.
– Emerging of Sport and Physical Exercise as a fundamental parameter to the prevention of mental health problems
– Support and realization of sport events and physical activities for Mental Health by its members
– Contribution in research and educative processes which aim to clarify and extend the connections between the fields of Sport and Physical Exercise and Mental Health.
– Support the rights of the users of mental health services with means that stem from its mission
– Promotion of policies which are related with the connection between the fields of Sport and Physical Exercise and Mental Health at European and National Levels.
– Cooperation with other, specialized organizations which are active in the fields mentioned given the fact that only an integrated multidisciplinary holistic approach can deliver the necessary results in the field of Mental Health.

After the conclusion of the meeting, the Assembly members declared their belief that the proposed implementation of the 1st European Athletic Event for Mental Health in September 2018 in Athens, Greece (within the EVENTS Proposal submitted in the respective Erasmus+/Sport Call) will be a decisive step towards the establishment and the spread of a “Active Living for the Soul for All” movement, based on the active participation of the community.

Information on the progress of the “MENS” Project as well as of the E.N.A.L.M.H. Network can be found on .
Nicos Andreopoulos, ENALMH Secretary General,



First Fortnight is delighted to announce we are part of the Mental Health European Network of Sports (MENS), which is a new European project funded by Erasmus+.

MENS overall goal is to promote voluntary activities in sport, together with social inclusion, equal opportunities and awareness of the importance of health-enhancing physical activity through equal access and participation in sport for all. We are one of 17 participants across 12 countries.

As part of First Fortnight’s involvement, we will be looking at the creation of sport events involving those experiencing mental ill health at a local / national level as part of the Sports For All movement and in making progress towards a European Mental Health Sport Event.

We will also be looking at the implementation of an awareness campaign at European level aiming at building a framework for the connection of Sport with Mental Health

First Fortnight is currently researching a policy paper entitled, Mental Health Stigma in Europe. We are excited by the potential impact that these collective policies will have throughout Europe in relation to mental health, stigma and sports. We have regularly run mental health sports events during our First Fortnight festival each year. Building upon this work is both a natural and important progression of our work.

The project website is currently being constructed but we will be keeping updates on this page- do watch this space!

If you are part of a sports or mental health group and are interested in hearing more, please email

If you have conducted any research into sports and mental health or stigma and would like to help expand our body of review work for our policy papers, please get in touch and email