Improving mental wellbeing through running
08 April 2014
England Athletics with Sport in Mind have produced a new brochure to get more people experiencing mental health conditions active through running and athletics.
The organisations today jointly launched a new resource ‘Mental Health and Athletics’ which aims to raise awareness of mental health and provide guidance and support to athletics clubs, running groups, coaches and leaders to help make athletics more open and accessible to people experiencing mental health conditions.
Mental illness is a rapidly growing problem in the UK with 1 in 4 people affected each year. Despite strong evidence of the benefits of sport and physical activity on our mental health only 16% of people with mental health conditions take part in sport or physical activity (once a week) compared to 35.7% of non-disabled people (Active People Survey 7).
EFDS Disabled People’s Lifestyle Survey 2013 showed that people experiencing mental health conditions were twice as likely as the national average to take part in sport or physical activity alone. England Athletics and Sport in Mind are therefore working together over the next 6 months on a pilot project in Berkshire to install marked, measured running routes as part of England Athletics recreational running programme Run England and 3-2-1 initiative. The routes will be promoted through the NHS and other local mental health organisations to try and increase participation by people experiencing mental health conditions.
England Athletics Chief Executive Chris Jones said: "We are delighted to work with Sport in Mind in producing this important resource. As an intervention and preventative measure running and athletics can help to combat a number of conditions that people are sadly faced with and can also contribute towards a healthier lifestyle in general. I know that running has often helped many of my colleagues and friends during times of stress and when they have needed a break from the day to day pressures of making challenging decisions that directly impact at a professional and personal level. We hope that this resource will help many people to better understand and appreciate how running can be used positively to contribute to healthy wellbeing in the context of mental health."
Sport in Mind Founder Neil Harris said: "Engaging in sport and physical activity on a regular basis is proven to have a positive impact on the lives of people experiencing mental health conditions and Sport in Mind is very pleased to be working in partnership with England Athletics to produce this resource. Raising awareness of mental health problems is vitally important to combat the stigma surrounding this type of illness and we hope that this resource will enhance peoples’ understanding and make athletics more accessible to people experiencing mental health problems. Athletics and running has the power to help aid recovery from mental illness and change peoples’ lives."