On World Mental Health Awareness Day sportscotland and SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) launched a new partnership that will offer mental health training to Active Schools coordinators across Scotland.
Scotland's greatest Olympian and SAMH ambassador, Sir Chris Hoy, joined pupils from Tynecastle High School in Edinburgh to take part in activity sessions run by some of the Active Schools coordinators who will benefit from the mental health training programme.
Sir Chris explained the personal reasons behind his involvement in the project. He said: “I’m proud to mark 10 years as a SAMH ambassador by launching a new partnership that will help the next generation of young people have better mental health through physical activity.
“I’ve experienced some of the biggest highs in sporting history but there have been low points too.
"During those low moments it was cycling that gave me the strength to keep going. I’m a real believer in the link between physical activity and good mental health as I know how my mood and wellbeing can be affected if I don’t manage to get out on my bike regularly.”
Managing mental health
Active Schools coordinators in all 32 local authorities will be offered the training, which will teach them practical ways of monitoring and managing mental health through their work in schools across the country.
In 2018 sportscotland signed up to Scotland’s Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport but for chief executive Stewart Harris, it was always the beginning of the journey, not the end.
He said: “Young people in particular have told us how they sometimes feel participation isn’t for them, especially when they are facing challenges in their lives. But they have also shared incredible stories of how sport has turned their lives around through the intervention of a teacher or Active Schools coordinator.
"That’s why we are working with SAMH to deliver mental health training in schools and communities right across Scotland. If it can help even one young person to cope with mental health problems and allow them to fulfil their potential, that would be a fantastic achievement.”
A major breakthrough
Billy Watson, chief executive of SAMH, said: “We’re thrilled to announce this strategic partnership with sportscotland which we believe could be a major breakthrough in building the mental health and wellbeing capacities within sports and their organisations.
"sportscotland’s leadership on mental health is setting the standard that we hope others will live up to.
"It is especially pleasing that we will be getting to work immediately in schools right across Scotland, so our young people can carry a new understanding and resilience around mental wellbeing through sport and physical activity, for generations to follow.”
The new partnership will also see SAMH and sportscotland working together to create a learning and development programme for sportscotland staff, developing in-depth mental health and wellbeing programmes.