One in four of us in the United Kingdom will be affected by a mental health problem this year! If you think about that for a second; that means for every football match in the country this weekend at least five players will be affected by a mental health problem over the course of 12 months… that’s a pretty shocking statistic, isn’t it?
Today it’s World Mental Health Day, a global initiative to raise awareness. For my charity Sport in Mind and thousands of other organisations, this is a key date in our diary to get people talking about mental health. The truth is that for many of us speaking about mental health is scary but the reality is mental health is a part of everyday life. All of us, at some point in our lives, will be touched either directly or indirectly by mental health problems so it is important to speak openly about these conditions and directly address the stigma.
I’m sure many of you are thinking, so who are Sport in Mind?
At Sport in Mind we use sport to help the recovery of people experiencing mental health problems and also, use it as a vehicle to bring people together to talk about mental health and raise awareness. By helping people to gain a greater understanding of mental health problems we can challenge the many negative stereotypes and help to combat the stigma associated with something that will affect one in four of us this year!
We are the independent mental health sports charity (unaffiliated to Mind) which specialises in using sport and physical activity as an intervention in mental health care (community and inpatient services). We were formed in 2011 to address the need for quality supported sport and physical activity opportunities for people experiencing mental health problems in order to help aid recovery and combat social isolation. To date, Sport in Mind has used sport and physical activity to help over 7,500 people experiencing mental health problems and delivered in excess of 8,500 sessions across 18 different sports.
As a charity we deliver programmes locally and also act as consultants by supporting other organisations to provide quality sport and physical activity programmes to help the recovery of people experiencing mental health problems. As a specialist mental health sports charity we have many years experience working in both sectors and can therefore help to make sure that a partnership between both health and sports providers is effective.
Our recent research of the programmes we are involved in has shown that 91% of clients highlighted improved mental wellbeing from accessing sessions for 6 months, with 87% having a reduction in their anxiety levels and an 83% reduction in their symptoms of depression.
From a delivery perspective, Sport in Mind has a strong working relationship with the NHS, with the specific aim of providing sport and physical activity programmes for the benefit of their patients, both in the community and also those in inpatient services. The majority of the clients we work with have severe and enduring mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and have been physically inactive for long periods. Our supported sport and physical activity programmes have, however, proven hugely effective at engaging sedentary, often hard to reach individuals who were reluctant to access more traditional mental health services.
Sport and physical activity has long been seen as the neglected intervention in mental health care but as an organisation with close links to the NHS, Sport in Mind has made huge strides in changing opinions that sport, delivered to a high standard, really can be a cost effective intervention in mental health care.
Please help raise awareness of the benefits of sport on mental health for World Mental Health Day 2016 by joining the conversation on social media @sportinmind – promoting positive #mentalhealth through #sport this #WMHD2016 #sportminds @sportrectweets
For information about Sport in Mind: