Following on from our Power of Sport campaign, we’re looking at how sports groups in Bristol work to help people’s mental health and wellbeing

A leaflet about mental health and sports
A leaflet about mental health and sports – download it here or contact us for a printed copy

The links between physical activity and mental wellbeing are well-known. More and more people are coming to know that getting exercise, fresh air and spending time with other people all have positive benefits on how we feel. Whether we live with mental health problems or not, we can all benefit from using exercise to get us through tough times.

Our Power of Sport campaign highlighted some great stories from local men in Southmead who have all benefitted from being involved with sports groups. As male mental health and wellbeing continues to be a big issue, this is welcome news. Men are still dying by suicide at vastly higher rates than women and accessing health services at much lower rates. Being involved in sports groups can have far-reaching benefits in helping men to deal with their problems.

Rugby player Luke Ambler began a social media campaign ‘#itsokaytotalk’ aimed at halving the rate of male suicides by encouraging men to open up. He also began a ‘Man Club’ to help men get used to talking about their problems together.

Of course, it’s not only men who can benefit from sport. Sport England’s national campaign This Girl Can is aimed at getting more women across the UK involved in exercise and sports activities.

How can sports groups get involved with mental health awareness?

Sports groups in Bristol already do so much to help people become healthier, happier and more connected with their local communities. But what else could they do to help people’s mental health?

Start conversations – Being focused on a physical activity can make conversations about mental health less awkward to start. Just a few simple questions such as “How are you doing?” can be enough to help people feel relaxed about talking about how they feel during practice.

Display posters and information in communal spaces – Putting up a poster about health and wellbeing in a changing room or other shared space can make it easy for people to access help and support. Here at CASS, we’ve got a large amount of printed information on health and wellbeing for groups in Bristol – get in touch with us today to see how we can help.

Keep it fun – The winning and losing can be part of what makes sport so brilliant, but the excitement can give way to misery if there’s a constant pressure to come out on top. From Lutalo Muhammad sobbing at his defeat in the Rio Olympics to the many men who have been hospitalised while watching penalty shoot-outs, competitive sport can take a huge toll on health and wellbeing. Focus on team spirit, fitness and having a laugh for the best results.

Run your own mental health event – Organisations like Time to Change offer advice and support on how to run your own event, including this guide aimed at football clubs. Events don’t have to be huge and expensive to be effective; even just cup of tea and a chat can be a good way to get people together to talk about wellbeing and advertise to potential new members.

Do you represent a sports group and have an interest in mental health? Want to know more about health and wellbeing support in Bristol? Get in touch with the CASS team today.