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Focus on: scottishathletics

Physical activity supporting mental health

This year scottishathletics is celebrating the fifth anniversary of their continued partnership with SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health). As one of the first signatories to Scotland’s Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport (which was launched by SAMH), jogscotland continue to utilise sport to make strides in equality, and reduce stigma, through positive conversations and action on mental health.

5 years of partnership

The partnership set out with a mission to bring a new focus on changing lives through participating in athletics and has thus far been successful in raising awareness of mental health through sport. The full achievements of the funding partnership are outlined in the newly released Impact Report.

Already, approximately 1800 jogscotland jog leaders have completed the online mental health awareness training with SAMH. The Jogability project has also seen huge success through providing targeted activity and wellbeing sessions to girls and young women with additional support needs. In addition to this, the I’m here campaign helped jog leaders welcome mental health conversations at jogging sessions. As a result of this, 140 jog leaders at 75 different groups in 26 local authorities took the pledge.

CEO of SAMH, Billy Watson said: “While the positive links between physical activity and good mental health are well recognised, this partnership has really demonstrated how being active can improve social connections, build community resilience, and open up positive discussions around mental wellbeing. jogscotland members have really embraced mental health activities as part of their groups; and as we emerge from what has been a very challenging period, it’s more important than ever than we continue to build on this through our ongoing partnership.”

A milestone to celebrate

The anniversary of the five-year partnership was recently marked with a special online celebratory event on 1 March 2022 - which saw guests invited from across the sports and activity sector.

Jog Leaders Nicola Moriarty of “Ready, Steady, Go Pitreavie” and Lan Pham, from “Saheliya”, the specialist mental health and well-being support organisation for black, minority ethnic, asylum seeker, refugee and migrant women and girls (12+) in the Edinburgh and Glasgow area, were invited to speak at the celebration, describing the impact of the partnership on the jogscotland membership.

Nicola highlighted the success of Sammy’s Road Trip, which involved three mascot toy pups (Sammy, Agnes and Lee) touring the country with a variety of groups hosting a pup at their jogging sessions which were used to start conversations around mental health and wellbeing.

“Sammy was a buzz about our group and the Jog Leaders wanted a go. Not only was he taken to jog groups he was taken to other sports sessions”– West Dumbartonshire, jogscotland.

Also at the event, Lan shared her experience of Saheliya, where they promote mental well-being by combating the effects of discrimination and abuse, reducing the stigma of mental health, and improving access to mainstream services. Saheliya used outdoor activity sessions to introduce members of the group to nearby beauty spots to help people reconnect in person after periods of lockdown.

Looking ahead…

Looking ahead, scottishathletics are prioritising adopting the SAMH and Team Scotland programme of support for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, as well as extending the work of the partnership to form a wider collaborations to further the support for mental health.

Jo Stevens, development officer at jogscotland says: “I am so proud of the jogscotland and SAMH partnership, it’s such a natural fit. Our shared values around the difference sport and physical activity can make to people is always at the heart of everything we do”.

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