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UK Coaching Team
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Safety and Welfare Supporting Specific Needs

How to Run Sessions for People Living with Mental Health Problems

Mental health charity Mind’s Sam Challis and London Playing Fields Foundation Chief Executive Alex Walsh tell Crispin Andrews how coaches can run sessions that are suitable and welcoming for people living with mental health problems, and discuss the short-term and long-term benefits

A 2014 sport and well-being study showed that a majority of mental health service users wanted to engage in sport on a more frequent basis. People surveyed also felt that they needed supported sessions to enable them to participate.

Sport is a great way to exercise, but it also has additional benefits:

  • Rules and conventions govern play.
  • People perform as individuals and as part of a team.
  • People learn, apply and develop skills, knowledge and strategies. 
  • It’s structured activity that requires people to think about what’s going on around them. 

There’s always something to focus your mind on and no time to dwell on problems.

Sport also teaches the sort of life skills that help people living with mental health problems reintegrate into society. They can learn to ignore external distractions and concentrate on the task at hand. They work towards short-term individual targets, giving a sense of achievement once reached. 

With teammates, they also work towards longer-term targets. By taking action and shutting out negative external and internal influences, they can begin shaping their future by reacting to everyday occurrences in a way that brings them what they want. 

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UK Coaching Team