Baroness Hollins - a champion for mental health, sport and recreation

Baroness Hollins blogs about her interest in the Mental Health Charter and campaigning to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities.

In March, the Alliance and Mind hosted a drop-in session at Parliament to meet MPs and Peers as part of activity around the one-year anniversary of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation. We were incredibly pleased that 24 Parliamentarians came to see us, including Ministers and Shadow Ministers and we asked them to become Charter Champions to help us promote positive messages around physical activity and mental health.

Baroness Hollins was one of the Parliamentarians that dropped-in. Here she tells us a bit more about her interest in the Charter and campaigning to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities:

The Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation is a vital resource in helping to connect and support people, through sport and recreation, who may never find the confidence or help to recognise the importance of addressing their mental health needs.

I have been campaigning to improve and enrich the lives of people with learning disabilities for over 25 years, and have created more than 45 picture books, as part of the Books Beyond Words series, for adults and young people who find pictures easier to understand than words. Many of the books we have created deal with mental health and in fact every book in the series has a psychiatrist on hand throughout the production process to maintain the therapeutic nature of the books, which is key to our methodology.

We use pictures which encourage social engagement, sport is another fantastic way of bringing people together in a safe, healthy and structured environment. It is of the highest importance that the government invests in supporting initiatives and research into improving mental health – as the social implications of doing so are profound.

Enjoying sport and exercise - whether as an active participant or an observer- is something everyone can share including people with learning disabilities of all ages. Sporting organisations can show the way in creating learning disability friendly communities with fairly simple adjustments being needed to enable people's full participation. Our book offers a fun and healthy way of engaging people in social activities and addresses the benefits of sport and exercise in relation to better mental health.

Do look at my picture book 'Enjoying Sport and Exercise' published by Books Beyond Words. It tells you all you need to know to improve wellbeing and access to services.

Find out more about the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation here.

Find out more about Books Beyond Words here.