jogscotland is working in partnership with Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) to promote the mental health benefits of jogging with the I’m here initiative.
The initiative has already proved hugely successful with over 600 leaders taking online mental health awareness training, and leaders from more than 70 groups taking a pledge in front of their group to support mental health conversations. More than 70% of those say they now feel more comfortable talking about mental health with their jogging groups.
The project started when jogscotland jog leaders were asked what they would like to get out of the SAMH partnership, they explained they learn more about mental health and support they can provide within their jogging groups.
"They wanted to feel confident talking about mental health, they wanted training to provide that backbone and maybe a signage that would show they’re open to that conversation without having to target people" – said Jo Stevens of jogscotland.
The I’m here pledge includes 3 criteria which each jog leader needs to adhere to:
- Complete the online SAMH Mental Health Awareness training
- Use their social media to promote running as a good tool to support both physical and mental health
- Have conversations regarding mental health on ground level with their groups
The journey so far
jogscotland initially expected about 30 jogging groups to sign up for the online course prepared by SAMH. Their expectations were exceeded when twice that amount signed up to participate in the course and leaders from more than 70 groups took the I'm here pledge.
Jo explained: "We feel that it’s very straight forward and that’s what makes it effective."
Over 70% of pledged leaders said they now feel more comfortable talking about mental health with their jogging groups, being able to both listen and lend a helping hand.
Mental health course has been made an integral part of a jog leader training, with all future leaders having to undertake the course before they’re fully qualified. It is still just optional for jog leaders who obtained their qualifications before, however, a lot of them did the course anyway. Jo Stevens believes that this is just a beginning.
"It’s been encouraging to see how many people signed up. We plan to give I’m here another push later in the year, we are not going to let it disappear. Mental health is very much embedded in what we do."
Lorna Simpson, jog leader for the Let’s Go Linlithgow, considers the SAMH training to be an excellent source of knowledge about starting a conversation.
She said: "The online training I received from Jogscotland was fantastic as it gave me the confidence to initiate conversations around mental health, support people with mental health issues and know how to find further help if necessary.
"I know from personal experience the benefits of sport on mental health but sometimes the hardest thing can be to take that first step. This can be even more daunting if you are experiencing mental health issues. The I'm Here initiative means that individuals can be confident that their Jog Leader can support them in taking that first step.
Jo Stevens has been a jog leader for 10 years and she admits that taking part in the SAMH course changed her approach to leadership role.
Jo added: "It made me more thorough, encouraged that extra step of care, make sure that if someone has not attended for a while maybe I should drop them a message to check on them and see if there’s anything I can do to help.
"The culture is changing, people are a bit more open about mental health.
"We’re promoting both mental and physical health almost equally now and we dedicate space and time to talking about I’m here, talking about our partnership with SAMH and promoting that message.
"I think there’s something about running people feel at ease, people are running side by side rather than face to face, it’s more relaxed this way. And the freedom you feel when you run translates into that openness. It’s a supporting and inspiring and motivating environment that’s aiming to bring the best in people."
No rest for the joggers
A new project is being set up to support people in Scotland’s ethnically diverse communities to be more included in their community and have more opportunities for physical activity.
Community Strides is a joint partnership between jogscotland, part of Scottish Athletics and Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).
The programme is among 17 projects to benefit from the Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity 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.
This project will target communities in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. It will use the power of physical activity to break down barriers and address taboos of physical activity and mental health to ensure people across Scotland regardless of age, gender or ethnicity can lead happy and healthy lives.
Find out more:
- Find out more about 17 projects funded by the Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity fund
- Find out more about the work of SAMH and jogscotland