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World Mental Health Day: Working together for everyone's wellbeing

World Mental Health Day falls on 10 October. We recognise the importance that activity has on everyone’s mental health and wellbeing. As a collective voice strengthened by our Membership and partnerships, we can learn from and share better practice. One of those partnerships is Mind, a mental health charity in England and Wales.

Man being supported in an IFI gym

Sport England research shows that there are strong correlations between poor mental health and physical inactivity.[1] Research from Mind’s Get Set to Go sports programme found that participants who did regular physical activity felt it improved their resilience. It also improved their ability to deal with anxiety, panic attacks, and even suicidal thoughts [2].

Despite the proven benefits of sport and physical activity on mental health, people with mental health problems face significant barriers to being active. Mind’s research suggests that almost seven in ten (70 per cent) of people with mental health problems feel that their mental health makes taking part in physical activity too difficult. Factors such as worrying about body image, being intimidated by sports settings like gyms and difficulty in finding motivation can all prevent people with mental health problems get active.

In July, we announced the official partnership with Mind. This collaboration will support sport and physical activity organisations to be more inclusive. Together, we hope to equip the sector with the skills to support and engage more disabled people and people with mental health problems in physical activity.

The partnership runs until March 2021 and aims to achieve the following:

  • Mind and Activity Alliance to upskill each other in mental health and disability/inclusion
  • Join forces to support regional sport and physical activity organisations around engaging disabled people and people with mental health problems
  • Collaborate in the development and promotion of research around disabled people and people with mental health problems
  • Promote and produce resources and guidance to upskill the sport and physical activity sector on how to support and engage disabled people and people with mental health problems
  • Work together to ensure mental health and disability inclusion elements are incorporated in sport and physical activity standards and policy

Internally, we have also worked to ensure our employees have a happier and healthier place to work. We are committed as an employer to our staff wellbeing. Our employee wellbeing group meets regularly to talk through policies and opportunities. This includes ‘talking lunches’ and mindfulness resources.

Barry Horne, Chief Executive for Activity Alliance:

“We recognise the part sport and activity have to play in the lives of disabled people and people with mental health problems. The barriers that exist are wider than those they face in sport.
“The more collaborative our thinking, insight and delivery is, the more people we can influence to challenge perceptions and change the reality of disability, inclusion and sport. That’s why this strategic partnership with such an influential organisation as Mind is so crucial.
“The stark reality is that disabled people are twice as likely to be inactive as non-disabled people. And research shows that people with mental health problems are less engaged in sport and activity. We hope by working together that we can ensure more people can reap the benefits of an active lifestyle.”

Find out more on Mind’s website.

[1] Only 50% of people with mental health problems are active (doing 150 minutes a week) compared to 60% of the general population. Sport England Active Lives Survey May 2016-17.

[2] Mind’s Get Set to Go evaluation