Pioneering project helps mental health patients on to bikes

Candi-Cycles maintenance session

Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust, with the aid of an LCC-administered grant, is pioneering work on treating mental health problems using cycling.

The trust’s project, under the name Candi-Cycles, was awarded £4580 in Febuary 2009 from the Community Cycling Fund for London.

Candi-Cycles has a pool of bikes that it can assign to anyone whose mental health it thinks will benefit from increased outdoor activity.

It can provide cycle training when necessary to those who want to improve their confidence on and off road.

The scheme also encourages patients to use the bikes via organised rides and provides maintenance classes. The funding provided expert maintenance skills, along with money to buy tools and spare parts.

LCC community cycling assisant Mags Reinig said, “Providing a modest cycling programme to those with mental health problems has so far proved a success with the reported effects on participants being thoroughly beneficial.”

Druid Fleming, an occupational therapist and one of the project leaders, said, “It’s important for us to gather hard data on this scheme to support future funding for similar projects. We want to make cycling a more commonplace part of treating mental health problems.”

LCC chief executive Koy Thomson said, “We’re proud to be part of this pioneering effort. There’s a mountain of evidence demonstrating the positive effects of cycling on physical health, and as well as a smaller but still significant body of evidence that people with mental health problems can benefit from physical exercise such as cycling. We want to see other health providers going down this route.”

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust is seeking to develop its research and its cycling further, with future plans including the securement of research funding. LCC has pledged to continue to provide cycling expertise during any long-term study.

On 10 October, Candi-Cycles is leading a Time To Change ride from Islington to Regent’s Park to help fight mental health discrimination. For more information, follow the link on the right. The trust also plans to orgnanise a sponsored ride to Trieste, Italy.

Fact File

Project Candi-Cycles by the Camden & Islington Mental Health Trust
Purpose Support service users, teach bike maintenance skills, provide cycle training, and recycle bikes
Awarded £4580 from the Community Cycling Fund for London in 2009
Activities Maintenance sessions, cycle training, led rides.