19th May 2023
Organisations that help both physical and mental health
Being active not only helps improve physical health, but mental health as well.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we caught up with a few organisations Active Sussex have worked with or supported to find out what they are doing to help support participants’ mental health.
Jess Robson is the founder of Run Talk Run, a global community that provides a supportive environment for people to come together and run while discussing their mental health struggles.
“The initiative aims to create a safe and non-judgmental space where individuals can talk openly about their mental health while also engaging in physical exercise,” Jess explains.
“This approach can help to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness that can often be associated with mental health challenges.
“By encouraging conversation and connection through exercise, Run Talk Run helps to build a sense of community and support for those who may be struggling.
“Run Talk Run also prioritises accessibility, with groups being free to join and open to all levels of runners, regardless of their fitness or experience.”
HeadOn Board was set up in response to the suicide of three men who were skateboarders in Hastings & St Leonards.
This project aims to improve men’s mental health, wellbeing and reduce the risks of suicide through skateboarding for men over 18.
One HeadOn Board participant, Danny, wrote after a session: “Thanks for today, I ended up skating the rest of the day. I didn’t want to go home and I haven’t wanted to leave my house lately, always nervous. Yet today I felt none of it, I just skated. I think you got something real good going with this.”
Research has found that people with mental health problems are often more likely than the general population to have physical health problems, yet they face additional barriers to becoming active.
Abbie Wraige from West Sussex Mind said: “We know that getting active can have a positive impact on physical health, but it can really impact mental health too.
“It can reduce risk of depression by up to 30 per cent, lift your mood and improve self-esteem, but 70 per cent of people with a mental health problem say that their mental health prevents them from taking part in sports or physical activity.
“At West Sussex Mind we believe that physical activity should be used to build resilience, support and enable mental health recovery and tackle stigma.
“We have a few projects which support this and actively work to overcome any barriers people may be up against getting active.
“Active Sussex kindly gave us a grant to set-up physical activity groups in Littlehampton, linked to health inequalities and through this we run three activities per week in the area, these are table tennis, walking football and a walking/jogging group.
“Our regular attendees have reported in a recent survey that these groups significantly help them to manage their weight, socialise, have fun and improve their mental health.
“One individual reported that walking with a group of people who understand him has been most important in helping to manage his paranoia.
“We run two coastal run groups per week. One participant said ‘I have spent the last thirteen years in self-social isolation. The running group has given me a new lease of life, combining fitness, company and wellbeing. Keep up the good work!’”
West Sussex Mind has just launched a new 15-month project, funded by National Mind and ASICS, aimed to connect and support people at risk of developing / with mental health problems to existing community activities.
The idea is that it will be a tailored approach to help participants overcome the barriers to being active by providing a range of outreach events, pop up/taster activities and one-to-one support.
It is also trying to support community physical activity providers to better understand mental health by providing free access to its Mental Health Awareness for Physical Activity eLearning.
To access the course, visit: Mental Health Awareness for Sport and Physical Activity E-Learning Tickets | Eventbrite