Sport leaders from across Scotland will use the power of sport to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people.
Young people from Glasgow, Stirling, Dalry, Nairn, Irvine and Stranraer make up a 20-strong group of wellbeing ambassadors as part of a new project as part of a new initiative led by Scottish Sports Futures (SSF) and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).
The project has been created with £61,205 from the Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity fund.
The joint programme is among 17 projects to benefit from the £1m fund, delivered by the Scottish Government, sportscotland, Spirit of 2012 and The Robertson Trust with the aim of changing lives and creating a more inclusive and healthier nation.
The SSF and SAMH project will promote positive mental health for young people and address the stigma and discrimination felt by those with mental health problems. The group are already part of SSF’s volunteer network and are setting out to increase the understanding of mental health among young people, and as such ensure more young people enjoy better mental and physical wellbeing.
The group helped to plan and deliver a mental health and wellbeing themed basketball tournament at Oriam in Edinburgh on Sunday, 7 April. The event saw over 250 young people come together from Shell Twilight Basketball sessions across Scotland from as far afield as Dingwall and Stranraer.
As well as taking part in age-grouped basketball games throughout the day, all young people had the opportunity to attend mental health and wellbeing themed workshops. These workshops were designed and delivered by the wellbeing ambassadors to their peers and focussed on the topics of stress, pressure and social connection.
Chief executive of sportscotland, Stewart Harris, said: “We see time and again that sport has the power to change lives and being physically active is one of the best things we can do for our physical and mental health.
“At sportscotland young people are at the heart of what we do, we believe that young people should have a voice in sport, this project is an excellent example of that.
“It’s great to see the fantastic partnership between SSF and SAMH, who have combined to show that sport can make a meaningful difference to the lives of young people through promoting the benefits of positive mental health.”
Kirsty McNab, CEO of SSF, said: “It was an incredibly proud moment seeing hundreds of our Shell Twilight participants playing basketball and also taking part in all three mental health and wellbeing workshops at the weekend, all delivered by our newly trained wellbeing ambassadors.
“Signing up to the SAMH mental health charter for physical activity and sport was an easy decision for us at SSF because we know and see every day the power of sport to promote a positive mind and body and this amazing tournament really has embodied and been a real-life celebration of this.
"I am beyond proud of each person involved and look forward to what comes next.”
Robert Nesbitt, SAMH head of physical activity and sport, said: “Physical activity and sport can have a positive effect on our mental health and wellbeing, and this fund is providing the opportunity to help communities across Scotland, discover how physical activity can impact and improve their mental health.
"Working together with SSF and the wellbeing ambassadors through the funded project is promoting positive discussions around physical activity and mental health, helping to break down barriers to participating which will make a real difference to young people’s mental health and wellbeing in an inclusive environment.”