UK government urged to invest in mental health sport and physical activity programmes

Marcus Trescothick
Marcus Trescothick is a supporter of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation
©REUTERS / Action Images

The government in the UK is being urged to invest more money in mental health sport and physical activity programmes, with 84 per cent of those polled in a recent survey supporting such a move.

One thousand people were polled in a survey commisioned by the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the Professional Player's Federation and mental health charity Mind to investigate the public's understanding of how sport and recreation can effect mental health.

The poll also revealed that eighty per cent agreed that mental health is improved if they exercise or remain physically active.

One in four people in the UK are anticipated to experience a mental health problem each year, and now the sport and recreation sector, as well as Mind, are calling for further government support and investment in collaborative mental health and physical activity programmes.

They want to see additional funding build on existing initiatives like Mind's Sport England and National Lottery funded programme Get Set to Go, which supports people to use sport to get active.

A number of cricketers have spoken openly about their mental health problems, among them former England opening batsman Marcus Trescothick, who is fully behind the calls for more to be done.

"We are aware of our responsibility to make sport accessible to people of all ages, background and ability, and this includes those who may have difficulties with confidence and self-esteem," Trescothick said.

"The Mental Health Charter highlights the provisions sport has already put in place to support people dealing with mental health problems.

"Yet, as a sector with the capacity to reach so many, there are still more opportunities to create new initiatives which can help to educate and involve people in physical activity as a means of coping and restoring their mental health.

"In order to break down the stigma, the sport and recreation sector has and will continue to work together to action the objectives of the Charter."

The poll also identified the important role that health professionals must play, with 85 per cent agreeing that GPs, nurses and pharmacists should also promote sport and physical activity as treatment for mental health problems.

In 2015, the Mental Health Charter was launched to promote the mental health benefits of an active lifestyle, and since then more than 230 signatories have pledged to make positive change happen.

"Evidence shows that being active can help prevent mental health problems and help people to deal with them," Emma Boggis, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance said.

"This can be for everyone, whether participating at grassroots through to elite level.

"We encourage more organisations and current supporters of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation to demonstrate their backing and increase momentum behind mental health sport and physical activity programmes."

Sophie Corlett, Director of External Relations at Mind added: "The recent Mental Health Taskforce report recommends greater access to interventions for physical activity to help people with mental health problems who are at greater risk of poor physical health.

"Mind is pleased to be working with the sport and recreation sector to deliver programmes and tackle stigma around mental health through physical activity."

The PPF’s Chief Executive, Simon Taylor also commented: "Every time a sportsman or woman talks about their mental health it helps to break down some of the stigma that millions of people face each day.

"Sport is a great way to promote good mental health for everyone."

© Cricket World 2016