Using Physical Activity to Reduce Mental Health Inequalities

Using Physical Activity to Reduce Mental Health Inequalities

Posted: Sun, 10 Oct 2021 07:06

Using Physical Activity to Reduce Mental Health Inequalities

Today Sunday 10th October is World Mental Health Day and the theme of this year's campaign set by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) is 'Mental Health in an Unequal World'.

Access to mental health support is too often determined by where we live or who we are. The same inequalities sadly exist in terms of people's ability to access physical activity opportunities! As keeping active is seen as one of the best ways to maintain good mental health then we can potentially tackle both issues together.

The strapline for this year's World Mental Health Day campaign is:If we all do one thing, we can change everything." Northamptonshire Sport has been doing a lot of work around the county to reduce some of these inequalities that have sadly been widened by the pandemic using physical activity as a tool for positive change to people's lives and mental health. We'd like to use today to showcase some of these initiatives in order to get people thinking of other ways we can work together and improve the situation in the future.

Young people from families in the lowest income bracket are four and a half times more likely to experience severe mental health problems than those in the highest. Over the summer we managed the Holiday Activity Fund (HAF Northants) programme which provided free activities and a substantial meal for young people from families receiving school meal-related benefits in Northamptonshire. The programme addresses the triple inequalities facing Northamptonshire's most disadvantaged young people – holiday hunger, physical inactivity and social isolation. During the 2021 summer holidays, almost 24,000 places were booked on the HAF Northants programme.

People from racialised communities are at a higher risk of developing a mental health problem and have also been more affected by the pandemic which has exacerbated this issue. Northamptonshire Sport is managing the Tackling Inequalities Funding (TIF) within the county on behalf of Sport England to use physical activity as a mechanism to counter some of the issues created by the pandemic which have impacted greater on underrepresented groups than the rest of society.

One example of a TIF project that has successfully achieved all of these objectives was working with the Dostiyo Asian Women's Club in Northampton to provide regular outdoor fitness classes in Abington Park. You can read more about this project and our TIF work in the case studies section of our website.

Disabled people are twice as likely to experience mental health problems than non – disabled people. This year we've worked with Mencap to coordinate a project for people with learning disabilities in the county called Round the World Challenge. We've worked in partnership with organisations including Cube Disability, Teamwork Trust and Spectrum Northants to engage 150 adults with learning disabilities in regular activities. Every hour of activity they've done has been converted into miles for them to travel on a virtual journey first around Great Britain, then Europe and then the world. Participants have all got a passport which gets stamped along the way which then earns them certificates and prizes.

For more information on any of these initiatives and other activities that you or organisations you're involved with can participate in please contact us on 01604 389 976.

Using Physical Activity to Reduce Mental Health Inequalities

Tags: Featured, Inequalities, Mentalhealth

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