Around 3 million people with mental health difficulties are set to benefit from the expansion of a scheme jointly run by Sport England and Mind, the mental health charity.

Get Set to Go was originally piloted in 2014 and provided one on one and group support, alongside the provision of football, gym, badminton and a whole host of other sporting activity. Sport England has now allocated a further £1.5m of National Lottery funding to expand the programme and help significantly more people.

Sport has proven benefits for our mental health

After the pilot, participants reported that they felt much better supported and engaged with physical activities, increasing their regular activity by around one and a half days per week. The benefits of sport on mental health are proven and widely recognised – around 70% of people with mental health problems feel their issues make taking part in sport / physical activity too difficult and too daunting.

To help address this, an expanded Get Set To Go scheme will give specialist training and information to help make sport and physical activity in England more mental health friendly. Over 30,000 sport and physical activity staff and volunteers will be trained to give better support to people with mental health problems.

Leisure centres, gyms and similar providers will be encouraged to be more welcoming and to understand the needs of people with mental health problems. An appreciation of mental health will be embedded in the way they work, for example by including it in coaching and leadership qualifications, with the potential to reach 2.8 million people with mental health problems.

Jade has been participating in the Get Set To Go scheme through boxing, and credits it with helping her to manage her mental health.

Before I joined Get Set to Go I tried to deal with suicidal feelings on my own but I drank, self-harmed and didn’t look after myself because it didn’t matter to me whether I lived or not. I still struggle with suicidal thoughts and feelings, but since taking up boxing I’m better equipped to deal with things when I’m not feeling well, and I have a good support network around me. When I found Get Set to Go, I discovered I that I wasn’t alone in how I was feeling. The instructor is great. Boxing makes me feel better both physically and mentally. Before boxing sessions I didn’t want to live. I didn’t know how to go about sorting things out. Instead of punching myself, now I punch the gloves! – Jade, Get Set To Go scheme participant

You can find out more about Get Set to Go and Mind’s other sports work here.

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