Triathlon Scotland is signed up to the Sport and Recreation Alliance’s Mental Health Charter for Sport. The Charter outlines five actions that we, as a sector, can take to help make mental health a commonly understood matter and to help those in need. It sets out how sport can use its collective power to tackle mental ill health and the stigma that surrounds it.
The Sport and Recreation Alliance want to use the power of the sport and recreation sector to make our activities welcoming, positive and inclusive for everyone. Below we outline the commitment Triathlon Scotland is making as a charter signatory.
What are mental health problems?
Mental health problems can affect the way you think, feel and behave. Some mental health problems are described using words that are in everyday use, for example ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’. This can make them seem easier to understand, but can also mean people underestimate how serious they can be.
A mental health problem feels just as bad, or worse, than any other illness – only you cannot see it. Although mental health problems are very common – affecting around one in four people in Britain – there is still stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health problems, as well as many myths about what different diagnoses mean.
We all know that being physically active is good for our bodies. But our physical health and mental health are closely linked – so physical activity can be very beneficial for our mental health and well-being too. Swimming, cycling and running are all activities that are great for body and mind and we really want to encourage people to try and enjoy one, two or three of our sports.
British Triathlon Psychologist, Lara Barrett, outlines the following benefits to mental health that can be achieved by incorporating triathlon into your lifestyle:
1) Physical activity triggers chemicals in the brain called endorphins which act as mood enhancers.
2) Exercise is a stress reliever – it reduces the level of stress hormones in your body and distracts you from day-to-day worries.
3) It improves your self-esteem, especially when you complete your first event or beat previous timings.
4) Training as part of a club or team increases your social support.
5) There are psychological benefits to being outdoors, for example sunshine boosts levels of serotonin.
If you or anyone you know is having mental health issues, good sources of help are:
The Samaritans on 116123 (Freephone)
The Scottish Association for Mental Health
World Mental Health Day
On 10th October people all over the world will be supporting #WMHD (World Mental Health Day) to raise awareness of mental health problems and support people to talk about their concerns. We understand that mental health is a very complex and sensitive subject for people to talk about. We are encouraging all of our club members on 10th October to take part in a swim, bike or run session, and to take the time to talk to someone about an aspect of life that might be concerning you.
Mental Health Charter for Sport: We will
• Use the power of sport and recreation to promote wellbeing, with a special focus on encouraging physical activity and social interaction for their contribution to good mental health.
• Publicly promote and adopt good mental health policies and best practice within our sports and recreational activities.
• Promote positive public health messages using diverse role models and ambassadors to reduce the stigma attached to mental health problems.
• Actively tackle discrimination on the grounds of mental health to ensure that everyone is treated with dignity and respect.
• Support the establishment of a pan-sport platform to work closely with the mental health sector to develop and share networks, resources and best practice.
• Regularly monitor our performance, assess progress and take positive action on mental health issues.
Scottish Association for Mental Health
Speaking at the event, Sir Chris Hoy said: “Everyone should have the chance to get active and learn to use physical activity and sport to help live a happier, healthier life and we need to ensure funding is in place to deliver initiatives to support this.”
Adam Peaty, speaking for the first time for SAMH added: “I know the power that being active can have in helping to overcome negative feelings and the importance of being able to ask for help. Sporting organisations can really make a difference by welcoming, and encouraging everyone, especially people with mental health problems to participate in activities.”
Since the Charter launched earlier this year, over 60 organisations have signed up to the Charter.