A MENTAL health worker has set up a pioneering new group to help empower people in their battle with mental health issues.

Lewis Chambers, a support worker at the Linden Unit in Weymouth, has set up Fight Back Mental Health, weekly sessions that use boxing training to enable people to engage on another level.

The sessions are proving popular and Lewis says people really seem to appreciate the less clinical setting.

He said: “It’s all designed to help people who are engaged in the mental health service to engage with staff in an informal way.”

Lewis said he thought long and hard before setting up the group because he knew some people might not be too sure about the physical nature of boxing but he stressed that the sessions were non contact and it was all about helping people to express themselves in a different and less formal setting.

After a thorough workout and boxing skills sessions, those attending join in a recovery focus group.

Support workers and peer specialists are on hand to talk to people at the sessions and share experiences while the focus groups look at anything from diet and nutrition to coping strategies.

Lewis, who has boxed with the Weymouth Boxing Club for around 15 years, says he knows from experience how rewarding it can be.

Initially the group was aimed just at people who had been under the mental health team but Lewis said that they soon opened it up to carers and friends as well as people who just want to understand more about mental health issues.

He said this has helped make the groups feel less formal and clinical and the sessions, which are held every Monday morning at the Weymouth Boxing Club, regularly attract between 15 and 20 people.

Lewis said: “We have had really good feedback, we set up a Facebook page only last week and already we have had 130 ‘likes’.”

The sessions also help people to open up on a personal level in the less formal atmosphere.

Lewis said: “This is a terrific way of engaging people and getting well, staying out of hospital, getting fit and that whole mental awareness.”

* To find out more about the group search for the Fight Back Mental Health page on Facebook.