Flying high – using trapeze to promote recovery, employment and social inclusion

Joanne Rixom (Based at Status Employment, London, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Publication date: 17 August 2012



This paper aims to describe and explore the effects of integrating physical exercise (trapeze work) into a mental health individual placement and support (IPS) programme.


The project offered between six and twelve trapeze lessons on a weekly basis to individuals diagnosed with a range of mental health conditions. A breadth of quantitative and qualitative data were gathered with participants about their experiences. Methods included: reflexive journals; feedback questionnaires; film and photographic footage; and clinical assessment measures.


Participants reported a range of psychological benefits including enhanced self esteem, greater motivation, and ability to overcome mental barriers such as fear. This was highlighted by improvements in clinical measures. Significant psychological progress was made towards work, including confidence to work and motivation for job seeking. This also resulted in practical outcomes such as finding employment.

Practical implications

Although the project was not set up as a research investigation, programme outcomes support adopting a broad, holistic approach to mental wellbeing and employment support. IPS employment programmes could benefit from offering a portfolio of interventions which include physical exercise.


There have been limited studies assessing the impact of physical exercise combined with employment support; the IPS model does not incorporate supplementary activities such as exercise. This paper contributes to learning as to how employment support programmes might be optimised, a particularly pertinent issue in the current climate of high unemployment.



Rixom, J. (2012), "Flying high – using trapeze to promote recovery, employment and social inclusion", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 147-154.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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