Craig Seymour is a volunteer with SAMH and he recently spoke at the launch of the SAMH Mental Health Charter for Physical Activity and Sport. He tells us about his journey with his mental health and how sport has played a part.
How did you first get into sport?
The sports that I was first introduced to when I was younger were football and rugby because I was tall for my age. I was introduced to these by my dad because he was in the military. We used to move about when we were younger so sport was always a way for me to break the ice and make new friends in the different places that we lived in.
I suffered an injury that left me with a disability which meant I couldn’t keep doing the sports I was into. I now do lots of walking and go to the gym, and I am also in SAMH’s ALBA programme, which uses physical activity to help mental health. This has led to me volunteering for the ALBA team where I go either to the gym or on walks with the clients that need that extra bit of support.
What benefits do you see for young people in sport?
I think there are many benefits to involvement in sport for young people. There are the obvious health benefits of keeping yourself fit and healthy, there is also the social aspect of being part of a team or sports organisation, but for myself there is a huge impact on physical activity helping mental health.
From my own experience, after my injury and being diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome I was left unable to do the sports and other things that I used to be able do. This eventually got so bad that I thought suicide was the only option. This then led to a diagnosis of reactive depression which was one thing I never thought I would get. The doctor suggested using physical activity to help the symptoms of my depression.
The effect that physical activity has had on my mental health has been immeasurable. I’ve gone from doing no exercise to walking every day and now going to the gym twice a week. I’ve even found the confidence to do volunteering for SAMH.
What can young people do to encourage more people into sport?
I think young people can make others aware of the positive effect on mental health that sport and physical activity can have. They can also help to break the stigma around mental health and break down the barriers that might stop people engaging in sport and physical activity.
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